Navy bribery case fugitive ‘Fat Leonard’ attempted to get to Russia, authorities state

Defense contractor known as 'Fat Leonard' cuts ankle bracelet, escapes house arrest for bribery

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In a picture launchedSept 21, 2022, Interpol Venezuela stated it recorded Malaysian fugitive Francis Leonard Glenn, called Fat Leonard.

Interpol Venezuela|AFP|Getty Images

Since leaving 2 weeks earlier, authorities state the fugitive Malaysian defense specialist nicknamed “Fat Leonard”– who managed among the U.S. Navy’s biggest bribery scandals– zipped in between nations to discover a location where he might end up being practically untouchable for American authorities.

It practically worked.

After cutting off an ankle display and escaping from home arrest in San Diego onSept 4, U.S. and Venezuelan authorities state Leonard Glenn Francis crossed the border into Mexico, then took a trip to Cuba and Venezuela, where he was apprehended Tuesday at Sim ón Bol ívar International Airport outside Caracas.

Francis was preparing to take a trip to Russia, according to Interpol Venezuela Director General Carlos Garate Rondon, who divulged the arrest in a declaration published Wednesday onInstagram He stated Francis would be turned over to the nation’s judicial authorities to start extradition procedures.

Greg Rinckey, a previous Army attorney who is now in personal practice, stated he thinks Francis was “trying to play the angle of using some countries to get outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Marshals Service.”

“It looks like they caught him just in time,” Rinckey stated. “If he made it to Russia, I don’t believe the Russians would have turned him over to us.”

And while Venezuela and the United States have an extradition arrangement, the U.S. federal government might deal with an uphill difficulty returning the fugitive to American soil. The Biden administration does not formally acknowledge President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist federal government, has no embassy in Venezuela and has actually enforced squashing sanctions on the nation that have additional embittered relations. Law enforcement cooperation in between the 2 nations is unusual.

There was no instant word on when Francis may be extradited to the U.S.

The arrest began the eve of his scheduled sentencing in a federal court in California for a bribery plan that lasted years.

Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 and had actually been permitted to stay in house confinement to get treatment while he complied with the prosecution. With his aid, district attorneys protected convictions of 33 of 34 offenders, consisting of more than 2 lots Navy officers.

The towering guy with a broad girth and gregarious character wielded amazing impact as a bottom line of contact for U.S. Navy ships at ports throughoutAsia His household’s ship maintenance organization, Singapore- based Glenn Defense Marine AsiaLtd or GDMA, provided food, water and fuel to vessels for years. He plied officers with Kobe beef, costly stogies, performance tickets and wild sex celebrations at high-end hotels from Thailand to thePhilippines In exchange, leaders passed him categorized info and guided their ships, primarily from the Navy’s 7th Fleet, to ports he managed so he might conceal as much as $35 million in phony charges.

Among those he befriended was a Russian diplomat, Francis informed podcaster Tom Wright, who developed a nine-part series on the case. In an episode published last October, Francis stated he lived just a “stone’s throw” from the Russian Embassy in Singapore, and the Russian diplomat would come by his house unwanted to drop off vodka and other presents.

It’s unidentified if Francis relied on his Russian pals for aid while on the lam.

A police authorities knowledgeable about the case informed The Associated Press that authorities located Francis utilizing a mobile phone number they were offered. The authorities, who spoke on condition of privacy since they were not licensed to talk about the case openly, stated Francis lay Tuesday in a Caracas community.

Venezuelan authorities released a group of officers at the airport after a taxi driver tipped them off that Francis was leaving a hotel and headed there.

The authorities stated Francis meant to board an aircraft to the Venezuelan Caribbean Island of Margarita, which Venezuela wishes to become a popular location for Russian travelers since of its beautiful beaches available by ferryboat or flights from the mainland. The federal government stated last month it prepares to use 5 flights a week in between Margarita and Moscow beginningOct 1. Signs in Russian can currently be seen at the island.

The authorities stated Francis later on informed authorities his last location was Russia.

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It’s uncertain if Francis had contacts in Russia offering to assist, and if he did, what they desired in return. Francis extolled still holding jeopardizing pictures and videos of Navy authorities.

“What really worried the United States the most was these officers being corrupted by me, that they would be corruptible by the foreign powers,” Francis stated in among the podcast’s episodes.

His sentencing hearing was still held Thursday to handle the altering circumstance. When he returns, Francis will require brand-new lawyers.

His defense lawyer, Devin Burstein, informed the judge he prepares to submit a movement severing their ties due to an “irreparable breakdown in the attorney-client relationship.” Burstein did not discuss his customer’s arrest in Venezuela.

And when Francis does return, district attorneys suggested he will deal with an even longer sentence, asking the court to note his failure to appear at his sentencing hearing as purchased. That might include 5 years to his prospective sentence of 25 years, if he is eventually charged for disappointing up.

U.S. District Court Judge Janis Sammartino set aDec 14 status hearing for Francis with the caution that all celebrations might satisfy quicker depending upon how occasions unfold.

“This turn of events raises several issues, and obviously will have an impact on other cases,” she stated.

Sentencing hearings are set up in October for 4 Navy officers who went to trial and were founded guilty in the event.

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