A U.S. Navy lieutenant commander is the latest military official to plead guilty to a bribery charge in federal court and admitted to accepting cash, luxury hotels and prostitutes from a foreign defense contractor in exchange for proprietary Navy information.
Gentry Debord, who is based in Singapore, pleaded guilty on Oct. 13, 2016. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 13, 2017. In pleading guilty, Debord, who served in several logistical and supply positions in the Western Pacific, admitted that he instructed Glenn Defense Marina Asia (GDMA) executives to inflate their invoices to the Navy to cover the cost of various illicit gifts provided to him. From November 2007 to January 2013, Debord provided former GDMA CEO Leonard Glenn Francis and others with internal and proprietary U.S. Navy information.
Francis’ reputation for corruption and bribery in recent years has led him to be nicknamed “Fat Leonard.” (See The Washington Post article, “The Man Who Seduced the 7th Fleet,” here.)
This information provided by Debord included inside information about competitors’ bids on Navy contracts and information about an investigation into GDMA’s billing practices. Debord also admitted to misusing his position and influence in the Navy to advocate for and advance GDMA’s interests, including by approving inflated invoices for services never rendered that he directed Francis to submit.
According to admissions made in connection with his plea, as part of this conspiracy, Debord, Francis and others attempted to conceal the bribes given to Debord as well as the nature and extent of his relationship with Francis. This was done by, for example, using coded language in communications referring to prostitutes as “cheesecake” or “bodyguards.” Debord also requested that GDMA executives provide him with an apartment for a port visit.
In addition, Debord admitted to asking a GDMA executive to provide him with three hotel rooms, two cell phones, a van and 2,000 Singapore dollars. Debord instructed the executive to recover the value of these items by inflating the amount that GDMA would invoice the U.S. Navy for potable water and trash removal service for the U.S.S. Essex port visit to Singapore, which GDMA proceeded to do.
So far, a total of 16 individuals have been charged in connection with the GDMA corruption and fraud investigation. Of those, 11 are current or former U.S. Navy officials, including Debord, Admiral Robert Gilbeau, Captain (ret.) Michael Brooks, Commander Bobby Pitts, Captain Daniel Dusek, Commander Michael Misiewicz, Lt. Commander Todd Malaki, Commander Jose Luis Sanchez, Petty Officer First Class Daniel Layug, Naval Criminal Investigative Service Supervisory Special Agent John Beliveau and Paul Simpkins, a former DoD civilian employee who oversaw contracting in Singapore.
Gilbeau, Dusek, Misiewicz, Malaki, Beliveau, Sanchez, Layug and Simpkins have pleaded guilty.
- On Jan. 21, 2016, Layug was sentenced to 27 months in prison and a $15,000 fine.
- On Jan. 29, 2016, Malaki was sentenced to 40 months in prison and to pay $15,000 in restitution to the Navy and a $15,000 fine.
- On March 25, 2016, Dusek was sentenced to 46 months in prison and to pay $30,000 in restitution to the Navy and a $70,000 fine.
- On April 29, 2016, Misiewicz was sentenced to 78 months in prison and to pay a fine of $100,000 and to pay $95,000 in restitution to the Navy.
- Beliveau, a a onetime NCIS agent of the year, was scheduled to be sentenced at the end of last week.
- Gilbeau, Sanchez and Simpkins also await sentencing.
- Brooks and Pitts were charged in May 2016 and their cases are pending.
Also charged are five GDMA executives: Francis, Alex Wisidagama, Ed Aruffo, Neil Peterson and Linda Raja.
- Wisidagama has pleaded guilty and was sentenced on March 18, 2016, to 63 months in prison and $34.8 million in restitution to the Navy.
- Francis and Aruffo have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
- Peterson’s and Raja’s cases are pending. An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS0, and the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) are investigating this ongoing case. Anyone with information relating to fraud or corruption should contact the NCIS anonymous tip line at www.ncis.navy.mil or the DoD Hotline at www.dodig.mil/hotline, or call (800) 424-9098.