Navy corruption scandal mastermind “Fat Leonard” captured in Venezuela

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A military contractor who served as the architect of the “Fat Leonard” Navy scandal has been captured in Venezuela after he went on the lamb earlier this month, the US Marshals Service confirmed to CBS News Wednesday night.

Leonard Francis, who goes by the nickname “Fat Leonard,” was detained on an Interpol red notice at Simon Bolivar International Airport in Caracas while boarding a flight to Cuba, the US Marshals Service told CBS News.

Leonard had been under house arrest in San Diego and was days away from being sentenced when he cut off his ankle bracelet in early September and fled.

US Marshals had believed Leonard had fled south to Mexico after cutting off his monitoring bracelet.

Francis was first arrested in San Diego in 2013 and pleaded guilty in 2015 to offering $500,000 in bribes to Navy officers. In return, the officers gave him classified information and even went so far as to divert military vessels to ports lucrative for his Singapore-based shipping services company. Francis, according to prosecutors, overcharged the U.S. military $35 million for his company’s services.

According to to his plea agreement from 2015, Francis identified seven Navy officials who had accepted bribes and admitted paying officials with hundreds of thousands in cash, as well as luxury goods worth millions. He supplied them with prostitutes and Cuban cigars, luxury travel, Spanish piglets and Kobe beef. Officials received spa treatments, top-shelf alcohol, designer handbags, leather goods, designer furniture, watches, fountain pens, decorative swords and handmade model ships, according to court documents.

Over 30 naval officers and contractors have either been convicted or pleaded guilty to charges related to Francis’ services.

At times weighing more than 400 pounds, Francis was colloquially known as “Fat Leonard.”

Francis has been under house arrest since at least 2018 and under the supervision of a federal agency, Pre-Trial Services, which oversees defendants who are out of custody pending sentencing. Prior to his disappearance, he was scheduled to be sentenced in late September and faced up to 25 years behind bars.

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