‘Fat Leonard,’ a fugitive in a U.S. Navy bribery situation, was caught in Venezuela : NPR

Leonard Francis, a Malaysian defense contractor nicknamed “Unwanted fat Leonard,” who orchestrated one particular of the most significant bribery scandals in U.S. military services history, has been arrested in Venezuela following fleeing before his sentencing, authorities claimed.

U.S. Marshals Company by using AP, File

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U.S. Marshals Support by means of AP, File

Leonard Francis, a Malaysian protection contractor nicknamed “Fats Leonard,” who orchestrated 1 of the most significant bribery scandals in U.S. military services historical past, has been arrested in Venezuela after fleeing before his sentencing, authorities said.

U.S. Marshals Services via AP, File

SAN DIEGO — A Malaysian defense contractor nicknamed “Unwanted fat Leonard” who orchestrated 1 of the premier bribery scandals in U.S. navy historical past has been arrested in Venezuela just after fleeing just before his sentencing, authorities explained Wednesday.

The global manhunt for Leonard Glenn Francis ended with his arrest by Venezuelan authorities Tuesday early morning at the Caracas airport as he was about to board an plane for another nation, the U.S. Marshals Services claimed.

Francis experienced traveled to Venezuela from Mexico with a stopover in Cuba, Interpol Venezuela Director Typical Carlos Garate Rondon reported in a statement posted on Instagram. Francis was headed to Russia and was arrested at the key international airport in Caracas, the agency said.

The arrest arrived on the eve of his scheduled sentencing in a federal court docket in California for a bribery plan that lasted extra than a ten years and concerned dozens of U.S. Navy officers.

There was no speedy word on when he may be extradited to the United States.

At the sentencing hearing Thursday, U.S. District Court Decide Janis Sammartino introduced to the court that Francis was in custody in Venezuela and that a “no bail arrest warrant” experienced been issued.

“This flip of functions raises a number of challenges, and naturally will have an impact on other instances,” she stated. A sentencing listening to for 4 Navy officers who went to demo in the scenario and had been located guilty is established for Oct.

Prosecutors requested the court docket to take note that Francis unsuccessful to appear at his sentencing listening to as ordered, although protection lawyers notified the courtroom that they would be submitting a motion severing their ties with Francis because of to an “irreparable crack down of the legal professional-shopper marriage.”

Sammartino set a Dec. 14 status listening to for Francis with the caveat that all functions could meet up with sooner based on how occasions unfold.

“I believe which is all we can achieve this early morning,” Sammartino mentioned.

Specified its inadequate relations with Venezuela, it may well be hard for the U.S. to get Francis again

The U.S. govt faces an uphill obstacle returning the fugitive again to American soil. The U.S. federal government would not recognize Nicolas Maduro’s socialist governing administration, has no embassy in the state and has imposed crushing sanctions on the nation that has further embittered relations. Regulation enforcement cooperation amongst the two nations around the world is uncommon.

Francis was less than home arrest in San Diego when he slash off his GPS ankle bracelet and escaped on Sept. 4. 10 U.S. companies searched for Francis and authorities issued a $40,000 reward for his arrest.

U.S. authorities also issued a red observe, which asks regulation enforcement around the world to provisionally arrest an individual with the chance of extradition. Malaysia and Singapore both of those have extradition agreements with the United States.

Francis pleaded responsible in 2015 to supplying prostitution products and services, luxury accommodations, cigars, connoisseur foods and much more than $500,000 in bribes to Navy officers and other individuals to support his Singapore-based mostly ship servicing corporation, Glenn Protection Marine Asia Ltd. or GDMA. Prosecutors stated the corporation overcharged the Navy by at minimum $35 million for servicing ships, quite a few of which were routed to ports he controlled in the Pacific.

Francis experienced been authorized to continue being in house confinement to obtain health care treatment though he cooperated with the prosecution. With his support, prosecutors secured convictions of 33 of 34 defendants, which include much more than two dozen Navy officers.

The choose experienced feared Francis would attempt to escape

Sammartino experienced feared Francis would run when she denied a request 4 many years ago to allow him to be underneath residence arrest without the need of all-around-the-clock stability guards.

The decide frequently taken care of that safety guards need to be on web page for Francis to be on residence arrest, regardless of his poor overall health.

According to a transcript of a closed-doorway listening to in February 2018, which was unsealed in January, Sammartino expressed issue that her title would occur up if Francis escaped and finished up again in Malaysia if everyone requested “who allow any person do this with no protection.”

She raised similar concerns in a Dec. 17, 2020, following receiving a report that the residence was left without having anyone guarding it for just about 3 hours, according to the court docket transcript. The guard was on a lunch break, and Francis apologized to the judge for the mishap.

Officials discovered no protection guards when they arrived at Francis’ house in a tony San Diego community some 7 hours right after he taken off the ankle observe, according to Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marsha, Omar Castillo. The unit, believed to have been taken off with large scissors, was identified in the dwelling.

Castillo claimed anyone experienced termed the San Diego law enforcement division, which sent officers to the home on the afternoon of Sept. 4. Officers identified the house vacant and contacted U.S. Pre-Trial Products and services, the federal company in cost of his confinement, which then contacted the U.S. Marshals Company.

Neighbors described viewing U-Haul vans coming and likely from the residence just one or two days just before the escape, Castillo explained.

Resource : https://www.npr.org/2022/09/22/1124550001/fats-leonard-arrested-venezuela-us-navy-bribery

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