By Matthew Gault
War is Boring
It was the middle of September 2013 and the U.S. Justice Department had laid a trap.
Its target was the Malaysian millionaire defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis. But no one called him by his real name. At six feet tall and more than 300 pounds, he earned the nickname “Fat Leonard.” His buddies in the Navy called him something else — the Tony Soprano of Singapore.
At the time, Leonard’s business — Glenn Defense Marine Asia — held contracts with the U.S. Navy worth more than $200 million. Anytime a ship in the U.S. Pacific Fleet needed servicing, there was a good chance it stopped at a port serviced by GDMA.
When the ships docked in Fat Leonard’s ports, he squeezed every buck he could out of the Navy and the American taxpayer. Beginning in 2004, Fat Leonard overcharged for basic services — and federal investigators are still totaling up the amount he suckered out of the Navy.
By 2013, the Justice Department was ready to take him down. Years of investigations had produced a solid case, and the department asked Navy officials to call Francis to California under the guise of a face-to-face business meeting.
On Sept. 16, 2013, the feds arrested former Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent John Beliveau in Washington, D.C. It also nabbed Navy Cmdr. Michael Misiewicz at his home at Colorado Springs. Both men had helped Francis defraud the Navy for years.
Francis landed in San Diego later that day and agents apprehended him.
The scandal, investigation and ensuing court drama involved bribery, fraud, hookers, luxurious travel, high-end electronics, admirals behaving badly and a tough prosecutor who faced down a Mexican drug cartel and won.
This is the story of Fat Leonard and how he took control of the Navy’s Seventh Fleet and used it to inflate his already impressive fortune. It is a story of hubris and corruption.
It is a story about how America’s military does business today.
Picture: U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Lowell Whitman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons