Retired officer pleads guilty in Navy bribery scheme

Retired officer pleads guilty in Navy bribery scheme
The Ticonderoga-class Lake Erie during a multi-national exercise off Hawaii in 2010. A retired Navy officer admits padding a bill for services for the ship during a port call. (MC2 Jeremy M. Starr / U.S. Navy)

A retired Navy officer pleaded guilty Thursday to being part of a bribery scheme involving Navy ships in the Asia-Pacific region.

The guilty plea by Edmond Aruffo, 45, who retired in 2007 as a lieutenant commander, marks the fourth defendant in the scheme to plead guilty in federal court.


Aruffo "traded integrity and honesty for greed and profit," said U.S. Atty. Laura Duffy.

Former Naval Criminal Investigative Service special agent John Beliveau, Petty Officer 1st-class Daniel Layug, and Glenn Defense Marine Asia executive Alex Wisidagama have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

Prosecutors say the scheme cost taxpayers more than $20 million for "husbanding" bills that were either padded or listed services that were never performed.

Navy Cmdr. Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez, and Leonard Glenn Francis, owner of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia, have pleaded not guilty and await trial.

Francis is accused of bribing Beliveau and the Navy personnel with cash, consumer electronics, lavish travel accomodations and prostitutes in exchange for classified information about the movement of Navy ships and an investigation into Francis' company.

With inside information, Glenn Defense Marine Asia was able to position itself to win contracts to service Navy ships, prosecutors say.

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 active-duty officers, the enlisted sailor, or the ex-NCIS agent knew the bills submitted by Francis' firm were bogus.

The guilty plea by Aruffo exposes a new wrinkle in the scheme. Aruffo, after retiring from the Navy, went to work for Francis' company as manager of its Japan operation.

In that job, Aruffo was able to defraud the Navy for "nearly every ship that came into port in Japan from July 2009 to September 2010," according to court documents.

Aruffo padded the bills by Japanese vendors working Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

In one case, Aruffo submitted a bill to the Navy for $145,229.77 for services provided to the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser Lake Erie. The bill was inflated by $50,000, which was paid as a kickback to Aruffo's employer, according to court documents.

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.