Navy Commander Charged In Bribery Scheme
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CN) - A U.S. Navy commander passed on classified information involving multimillion dollar Navy contracts to a defense contractor in return for prostitutes and luxury travel in Asia, prosecutors say.
Earlier this week, federal prosecutors arrested three men in connection with two bribery schemes: Malaysian defense contractor Leonard Francis, 58, U.S. Navy Commander Michael Misiewicz, 46, and a navy special agent, John Beliveau, 44.
According to a 2010 news release at the U.S. Navy website, Misiewicz was born in Phnom Penh, Cambodia during the Vietnam War and adopted by a woman serving in the U.S. Army. He was deputy operations officer for the U.S. Commander, Seventh Fleet on the USS Blue Ridge, and at the time of his arrest on Monday was assigned to the Peterson Airforce Base in Colorado Springs.
The Seventh Fleet operates in 48 million square miles of ocean, in an area that includes ports in Japan, Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, Vladivostok in Russia, and Australia, prosecutors said.
Francis bribed Misiewicz, 46, with stays in luxury hotels, escort services and on one occasion five tickets to a May 2012 Lady Gaga concert in Thailand, prosecutors allege.
They say Misiewicz opened a personal email account to communicate with Francis, sending him advanced details of the Navy's movements, and steering ships to ports where Francis' Singapore-based firm, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, could service ships.
Those services include security and transport, tugboats, trash and waste disposal, and other port services, under contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars, prosecutors say.
According to an affidavit in support of the federal bribery complaint, Misiewicz and Francis became close, calling each other by the nicknames Little Brother and Big Brother, respectively. They communicated with private email accounts using abbreviations or variations on those handles, special agent James McWhirter of Defense Criminal Investigative Service said in his 22-page affidavit.
During a trip to Thailand in 2012, Misiewicz had to call off a meeting with Francis because he was visiting family, the agent said.
Francis allegedly described the women the Navy commander had missed out on in an email: "'It's a Pity you missed my Elite Thai Seal team, you would have loved them par or better than Indons (Indonesians) or PI (Philippine Islands). Well next trip ...'"
The affidavit describes another instance where Misiewicz mistakenly copied Francis in an email to Navy officials.
"'Brother you must have copied me by mistake on your internal emails," Francis wrote back. "'I don't think they noticed. Stay calm we are ok. Just remove me in the next email as my name is clustered with the rest. Be cautious with emails. Takecare Bro, BB.'"
Misiewicz responded: "'Oh crap. I hate the auto feature on outlook. There's a [Commander] Leonard here and that is who the email should have gone to. Thanks for the heads up. Now I am worried, there is some spook kind of guys on this email. I can't believe I did that. ...'"
Prosecutors noted that charges for the luxury travel do not appear on Misiewicz's financial statements.
The second criminal complaint for conspiracy to commit bribery names as defendants Francis and Naval criminal investigator John Beliveau.
Beliveau is charged with downloading confidential reports from Naval Criminal Investigative Service database of criminal fraud investigations as to the defense contractor's submission of bills and alleged false claims.
Like Misiewicz, the agent passed Francis the information in exchange for luxury travel and prostitutes, according to prosecutors.
"Beliveau also allegedly provided Francis guidance as to how to deal with NCIS inquiries," the U.S. Attorney in San Diego said in a news release.
Francis was arrested on Monday evening in San Diego. While Beliveau was taken into custody in Virginia, where he is a supervisory special agent in Quantico.
Prosecutors said they will seek removal of Misiewicz and Beliveau to San Diego. If convicted, the defendants face up to five years in prison.