The central figure in a Navy bribery scandal is expected to plead guilty Thursday to buying classified information about ship movements by providing cash, travel, entertainment expenses and prostitutes.
Leonard Glenn Francis, 51, chief executive of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., would be the sixth person to plead guilty in the case -- leaving only Navy Cmdr. Michael Vannak Kheme Misiewicz asserting innocence and awaiting trial.
Federal prosecutors allege that Francis bribed two Navy officers, an enlisted sailor and a now-former Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent to provide information about the movement of Navy ships and submarines at ports in the Asia-Pacific region.
With inside information, Francis' firm was able to outbid other firms to provide "husbanding" services such as maintenance and water.
Prosecutors say the scheme cost taxpayers more than $20 million for bills that were either padded or listed services that were never performed.
To accommodate Francis' firm, his co-defendants ordered two aircraft carriers and the Blue Ridge, the command and control ship of the U.S. 7th Fleet, redirected to ports where the firm had an advantage over competitors, according to prosecutors.
Francis was arrested in 2013 after being tricked into coming to San Diego for what he thought was a routine business meeting. He is being held in the federal prison in downtown San Diego.
Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez; retired Lt. Cmdr. Edmond Aruffo; former NCIS agent John Beliveau; Petty Officer 1st-Class Daniel Layug; and Glenn Defense Marine Asia executive Alex Wisidagama have pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court.
Francis was known to provide lavish parties for Navy officers during port visits. The cost of those parties was hidden in the padded bills for their ships, prosecutors say.
There are no allegations that the officers, the enlisted sailor, or the ex-NCIS agent knew the bills submitted by Francis' firm were bogus.
For more than two decades, Francis' firm supplied water, fuel, food, garbage and waste removal, tugboats, fenders and other items for Navy ships. Amid the scandal, the Navy has canceled all contracts with the firm.
In 2010, Navy officials became suspicious that some of the bills submitted by Francis' firm from Thailand were padded.