Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Feds: Navy official in Tampa caught up in Asia bribery scandal

SAN DIEGO — A U.S. Navy commander transferred to Tampa about six months ago is now the third senior Navy official arrested in connection with a massive bribery scheme in Asia involving prostitutes and luxury travel, federal authorities said Wednesday.

The commander, Jose Luis Sanchez, 41, was arrested in Tampa.

In a criminal complaint, Sanchez is accused of accepting prostitutes, luxury travel and $100,000 cash from a Malaysian contractor known in military circles as "Fat Leonard."

Prosecutors say Sanchez passed on classified and internal U.S. Navy information to Leonard Francis' Singapore-based company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., or GDMA.

Sanchez's attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.

The arrest marks the latest development in the case that signals serious national security breaches and corruption and has set off high-level meetings at the Pentagon with the threat that more people, including those of higher ranks, could be swept up.

A hearing Friday could set a trial date.

Prosecutors in court papers assert that Sanchez is the second Navy commander accused of passing Navy ship schedules to Francis' company.

In charging documents unsealed Wednesday, federal investigators said Sanchez gave classified ship visit schedules and other information to GDMA starting in 2009, when he was serving as a senior logistics officer for the Navy's 7th Fleet in Japan. The arrangement continued until Sanchez transferred to Florida in April, court papers say.

Federal authorities in September arrested Navy Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz. He also is accused of passing confidential information on ship routes to GDMA.

Also charged so far are Francis; the general manager of global government contracts for Francis' company, Alex Wisidagama; and a senior Navy investigator, John Beliveau II.

Beliveau is accused of keeping Francis abreast of the probe and advising him on how to respond in exchange for such things as luxury trips and prostitution services. All have pleaded not guilty. Their defense attorneys declined to comment.

Misiewicz and Francis moved Navy vessels like chess pieces, diverting aircraft carriers, destroyers and other ships to Asian ports with lax oversight where Francis could inflate costs, the criminal complaint alleges. The firm overcharged the Navy millions for fuel, food and other services it provided, and invented tariffs by using phony port authorities, prosecutors say.

Federal authorities said Wednesday they will seek to have Sanchez sent to San Diego to face the charges.

"According to the allegations in this case, a number of officials were willing to sacrifice their integrity and millions of taxpayer dollars for personal gratification," said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.

The federal government has suspended its contracts with Francis.

The defendants could face up to five years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery.

The Washington Post contributed to this report.

Feds: Navy official in Tampa caught up in Asia bribery scandal 11/06/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 7:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility

    World

    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia

    World

    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber

    World

    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant

    Nation

    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]