NCIS agent pleads guilty in bribery scandal, may get 20-year sentence

John Beliveau, accompanied by attorney Gretchen von Helms, arrives at the federal courthouse to plead guilty to two counts of bribery.
John Beliveau, accompanied by attorney Gretchen von Helms, arrives at the federal courthouse to plead guilty to two counts of bribery.
(Lenny Ignelzi / Associated Press)

SAN DIEGO -- A Naval Criminal Investigative Service senior agent pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of bribery in a contracting scandal involving U.S. ships in the Asia-Pacific region.

The two counts could lead to a sentence of 20 years in prison.

John Bertrand Beliveau, 44, pleaded guilty to leaking confidential documents to Leonard Glenn Francis, a Singapore-based businessman, about a fraud investigation involving Francis that began in 2010, and then tutoring him on how to avoid giving incriminating statements.

Although nothing would bar the judge from sentencing Beliveau to the maximum 20 years, the guilty plea could be seen as an acceptance of responsibility and a reason for leniency.

“I’m here to do the right thing,” Beliveau told reporters before he entered the federal courthouse in downtown San Diego.


Beliveau is set to be sentenced March 7 by U.S. District Court Judge Janis Sammartino.

Beliveau’s actions “tragically tarnished his NCIS badge,” said NCIS Director Andrew Traver.

“This is an audacious violation of law for a decorated federal agent who valued personal pleasure over loyalty to his colleagues,” said U.S. Atty. Laura Duffy.

The plea bargain requires restitution of an amount to be determined later.

Francis, in exchange for the information about the movement of U.S. Navy ships, provided Beliveau with “cash, travel expenses, prostitutes and a used laptop computer,” according to the plea bargain with the U.S. attorney.

Francis, owner of Glenn Defense Marine Asia, was charged in September with bribing Beliveau and two Navy officers in the scheme to send ships to ports where Francis’ firm was influential.

Francis’ firm then submitted bills that were padded or fraught with services that were never rendered, according to the indictments.

The cost to the Navy and American taxpayers ran into the tens of millions of dollars, prosecutors said. The charges do not allege that the NCIS agent or the two officers knew the bills were fraudulent.

Along with Francis and one of his business executives, Navy Cmdrs. Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, 46, and Jose Luis Sanchez, 41, are also charged. All are awaiting trial and have pleaded not guilty.

The two officers were on the staff of the Japan-based 7th Fleet and privy to inside information. Beliveau was stationed in Singapore. His involvement in the scheme continued after he transferred to Quantico, Va., prosecutors said.

Among the ships that were rerouted at Francis’ request were two carriers and the 7th Fleet command ship Blue Ridge, according to prosecutors.

In addition to the criminal charges, two admirals have been put on leave and two other officers were relieved of high-profile positions during the investigation.

Beliveau’s attorney, Gretchen von Helms, told reporters that “my client’s weaknesses were exploited” by others in the case.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has ordered a review of the Navy’s contracting process for “husbanding services” for deployed ships.

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 any contracts with the firm.

In 2010, Navy officials became suspicious that some of the bills submitted by Francis’ firm from Thailand were padded.


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