“Fat Leonard” Skips Town Before Sentencing Later This Month
Leonard Francis, best known as “Fat Leonard” the contractor at the center of the long-running U.S. Navy bribery scandal that brought down officers in the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, escaped custody and is now going on the U.S.’s “most wanted” list. While it might seem improbably for a man that once was reported to weigh 400 lbs., Francis has possibly served up the final injustice in the case by reportedly “skipping town” over the weekend.
The U.S. Marshall Service has confirmed the rumors issuing an alert earlier today. “As of now, Leonard Francis is wanted for violating the conditions of his pretrial release,” the law enforcement department posted to its Twitter feed. They are asking anyone with information or who sees the infamous criminal to contact their office in San Diego. However, they admitted to local media that they currently have no idea where Francis is and that he could be just about anywhere.
Francis, who was arrested in 2013, ultimately pleaded guilty in 2015 in one of the most publicized bribery scandals in the history of the U.S. Navy. Francis had been assisting law enforcement with the prosecution of multiple officers from the U.S. Navy providing details on the allegations of paying for hotel stays, lavish meals, hosting parties, and the services of prostitutes in exchange for information about the U.S. Navy’s repair and maintenance programs that helped his defense contracting firm receive millions of dollars in contracts.
The latest twist in the long-running saga began Sunday morning when law enforcement asked for a welfare check at the home where Francis has been living under court supervision detention while awaiting his sentencing. Law enforcement confirmed that they had received a signal of possible tampering with the “ankle bracelet” Francis was wearing during his detention.
Officers reportedly arrived at the house finding it emptied of all belongings and only the monitoring device remaining. So far, a search has reportedly turned up little additional information while law enforcement issued domestic and international bulletins seeking information on Francis.
Interviews with neighbors reportedly turned up information that leads law enforcement to believe Francis had been planning his escape for some time. There are reports that the neighbors saw self-drive rental trucks at the house in recent days.
Francis has been on house arrest since 2018 while he was undergoing medical treatments. He had been expected to testify at a trial earlier this year that included the most senior officers tried in the bribery scandal. Francis had boasted that he would be the “star witness” and that the case deepened on his testimony. Four retired captains of the U.S. Navy were convicted at the end of June, but the jury failed to decide the case of the senior-most defendant.
Sentencing for the mastermind of the bribery scheme, “Fat Leonard” had been rescheduled numerous times. It had been set for July but was moved to later this month with a scheduled court appearance on September 22. Francis is facing up to 25 years in prison for pleading guilty to bribery and other crimes.