A Navy commander on Tuesday became the fifth defendant to plead guilty to a bribery scheme involving charges of trading inside information for cash, travel, entertainment expenses and the services of prostitutes.
Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez, 42, pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court to providing information about the movement of Navy ships and submarines to a Singapore-based defense contractor.
The contractor, Leonard Glenn Francis, chief executive of Glenn Defense Marine Asia, provided services to Navy ships and submarines at ports in the Asia-Pacific region. With inside information, Francis was able to outbid other firms to provide "husbanding" services such as maintenance and water.
Francis has pleaded not guilty to bribery charges. A second Navy officer, Cmdr. Michael Vannak Kheme Misiewicz, has also pleaded not guilty.
"Cmdr. Sanchez lost sight of the Navy's core values and embraced a lifestyle of greed," U.S. Atty. Laura Duffy said. Along with other things, Sanchez received $100,000, prosecutors said.
Besides Sanchez, also pleading guilty in previous hearings were retired Lt. Cmdr. Edmond Aruffo; former Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent John Beliveau; Petty Officer 1st-Class Daniel Layug; and Glenn Defense Marine Asia executive Alex Wisidagama
Prosecutors say the scheme cost taxpayers more than $20 million for bills that were either padded or listed services that were never performed.
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.
"After today's guilty plea, instead of free stays in the Shangri-La hotel [in Singapore] Sanchez is facing many nights in federal prison," Assistant Atty. Gen. Leslie Caldwell said.
Sanchez faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced March 27, prosecutors said.