Leonard Glenn Francis arrest photo
Leonard Glenn Francis arrest photo. Courtesy Interpol Venezuela

 With Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis in custody in Venezuela following his escape from house arrest in San Diego, sentencing was postponed Thursday for the defense contractor who pleaded guilty years ago to bribing a variety of Navy officials.

Francis, who was arrested Tuesday at Simon Bolivar International Airport, pleaded guilty in 2015 to charges related to offering expensive gifts to servicemembers in exchange for their assistance in aiding his ship husbanding company. His capture came a little more than two weeks after officials say he cut off a GPS bracelet and absconded from his San Diego residence.

Francis was allowed to remain on house arrest for the past four years due to a variety of medical issues, but did not testify as expected in the trial of five Navy officers charged with accepting bribes from him.

On Thursday, the date of his long-awaited sentencing, U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino set Francis’ next court date for Dec. 14. A new sentencing date has not been set.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment on what additional charges Francis could face as a result of his flight from the country, nor how the incident might affect his plea deal.

Prosecutors allege Francis offered Navy service members expensive meals, fancy hotel accommodations and the services of prostitutes and in exchange, he received classified information and wielded influence that steered Navy ships to ports he controlled in Southeast Asia. Francis’ company bilked taxpayers out of more than $35 million by overbilling the Navy for husbanding services, prosecutors allege.

Along with Francis, more than two dozen others have also pleaded guilty in connection with the case.

A trial held earlier this year resulted in convictions of conspiracy, bribery and other charges against four Navy officers.

–City News Service



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Ellen Bullock