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Top Navy officers convicted of bribery in ‘Fat Leonard’ defense contractor scandal

Leonard “Fat Leonard” Francis overcharged the Navy by more than $35 million for port services for the Pacific-based Seventh Fleet.

SAN DIEGO (CN) — A jury on Wednesday found four of the five Navy officials accused of trading military secrets for sex parties with prostitutes, luxurious dinners and travel paid for by defense contractor Leonard “Fat Leonard” Francis guilty of bribery and wire fraud.

Following a four-month trial, 12 jurors unanimously found Capts. David Newland, James Dolan and David Lausman, and Cmdr. Mario Herrera guilty of conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services wire fraud related to their participation in a conspiracy trading Navy ship schedules for the Navy’s Seventh Fleet with Francis, who pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribery and fraud charges.

The Seventh Fleet is the Navy’s largest fleet which includes more than 70 ships, 200 aircraft and 40,000 sailors and Marines based in the Pacific.

Jurors deadlocked on the fate of U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless — the highest-ranking defendant — prompting one of his attorneys to ask U. S. District Judge Janis Sammartino to enter a judgment acquitting him of the charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Pletcher objected to the motion to enter judgment. Sammartino, a George W. Bush appointee, advised the parties to submit additional briefing on the issue.

“These are not routine motions, folks, and the issues in this case have never been routine,” Sammartino said.

During opening arguments, Loveless' attorney Ivy Wang said the intelligence officer had “tagged along with his friends” to parties held by Francis and didn’t attend “because of the women at these parties.”

Wang did not confirm or deny allegations Loveless accepted prostitutes paid for by Francis and had admonished the jurors: “You are not here to judge whether anyone was a good person, you are here to find whether a federal crime was committed.”

The five defendants were indicted in 2017, accused of helping Francis overcharge the government by more than $35 million for husbanding or port services such as water, food, trash and waste removal.

Prosecutors said the Navy officials shared classified Navy ship schedules with Francis, the former president and CEO of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia, between 2004 and 2013. In exchange, Francis provided the military brass with luxury hotel stays, sex parties with prostitutes and extravagant meals with tabs close to $20,000.

Nine men were originally charged. Four of the defendants pleaded guilty ahead of trial.

A post-trial status conference is scheduled for July 21. The defendants will be sentenced Oct. 11.

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