20th Guilty Plea in U.S. Navy's "Fat Leonard" Scandal

Cmdr. Amundson speaks with Philippine officers aboard USS Halsey during the 2010 CARAT exercise (USN)

By The Maritime Executive 2018-01-31 13:43:00

Another U.S. Navy officer has pled guilty to charges of conspiracy and bribery in relation to the ongoing "Fat Leonard" corruption scandal at 7th Fleet. 29 suspects have been charged in connection with the scheme, including flag officers, making it the largest fraud case in Navy history. Investigators say that over 440 current and former military personnel have come under scrutiny, and 20 individuals have pled guilty. 

Cmdr. Troy Amundson (ret'd.) could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for his admitted involvement in the overbilling scheme, which cost the Navy tens of millions of dollars in fraudulent charges for port services, fuel and supplies. From 2005 to 2013, Amundson was responsible for coordinating joint military exercises with foreign navies, which put him in a position to have access to confidential Navy information. From September 2012 through October 2013, Amundson admitted, he passed confidential information to Leonard "Fat Leonard" Glenn Francis, the head of port services firm Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA). In exchange, he received dinner, drinks, transportation, other entertainment expenses and the services of prostitutes. GDMA traded on the information and influence provided by Navy insiders like Amundson in order to overbill the U.S. government. 

“Amundson deliberately, methodically, and repeatedly traded his public office for entertainment expenses and the services of prostitutes, and in so doing, aligned himself with a foreign defense contractor over his Navy, his colleagues and his country.” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman in a statement. “We are pressing forward in this investigation until we are certain that all involved have been held accountable.”

In one email obtained by investigators and released Wednesday, Amundson arranged to provide Francis with internal, proprietary U.S. Navy information in exchange for illicit services.  “Handoff?" he wrote. "[M]y [friend], your program is awesome. I am a small dog just trying to get a bone... however I am very happy with my small program.  I still need five minutes to pass some data when we can meet up. Cannot print.”  That night, prosecutors said, Francis arranged the services of several Mongolian prostitutes for Amundson.

The number of active cases related to the GDMA scandal has expanded as the Justice Department transfers responsibility for some of its targets to Navy prosecutors. The Navy is taking over cases that are not viable for civilian criminal trials, and will pursue them under the uniform code of military justice instead. According to reporting by the Washington Post, the great majority of these targets are officers.