Navy Corruption Fugitive ‘Fat Leonard’ Seeks Venezuelan Asylum

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FILE – This undated photo provided by the US Marshals Service shows Leonard Francis, who was housebound, allegedly cut off his GPS ankle monitor and left his home on the morning of Sept. 4, 2022. The fugitive defense contractor nicknamed ” Fat Leonard” – who is at the center of one of the worst US Navy corruption scandals – has sought asylum in Venezuela, according to a law enforcement official in the South American country. (US Marshals Service via AP, File)

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The fugitive defense contractor nicknamed ‘Fat Leonard’ who orchestrated a massive bribery scheme involving dozens of US Navy officials, has sought asylum in Venezuela, a law enforcement official said on Monday. , almost a week after being captured in the South American country.

Leonard Glenn Francis escaped house arrest in San Diego on September 4, just weeks before his sentencing. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press about the proceedings behind closed doors, did not provide any further details of the man’s moves. Malaysian business. By law, the Venezuelan government must examine the asylum request.

Francis owned Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd. or Singapore-based GDMA, which has supplied ships with food, water and fuel for decades. He admitted to overcharging the US Navy by $35 million with the help of dozens of US Navy officers whom he offered prostitutes, Kobe beef, cigars and other bribes so that they direct their ships to the ports controlled by Francis in the Pacific in Southeast Asia.

Francis, known for his large girth and big personality, pleaded guilty in 2015 and faces up to 25 years in prison. While awaiting sentencing, he was housebound in San Diego to receive medical treatment while cooperating with the prosecution, which led to the conviction of 33 of the 34 defendants.

US and Venezuelan officials said Francis cut off his ankle monitor, fled to Mexico, then traveled to Cuba before reporting to Venezuela. He was arrested there on Tuesday before boarding a flight at Simon Bolivar International Airport outside Caracas. Venezuelan officials said he intended to reach Russia.

Venezuela and the United States have reached an extradition agreement, although the Biden administration does not officially recognize the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro, does not have an embassy in Venezuela and has imposed crushing sanctions on the country which further aggravated relations.

US authorities have 30 days to formally request his extradition. In an email, a Justice Department spokesperson said the agency does not comment on extradition-related issues.

The U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment when asked about Francis’ asylum claim in Venezuela.

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Goodman reported from Miami.

This story was originally published September 26, 2022 5:08 p.m.

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