One Pleads Guilty and Another Sentenced in Fat Leonard Case

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By The Maritime Executive 11-14-2018 06:17:06

Former U.S. Navy Captain Jeffrey Breslau has pleaded guilty to criminal conflict of interest charges and former U.S. Navy Master Chief Ricarte Icmat David has been sentenced on corruption charges to 17 months in prison, followed by one year of supervised release and $30,000 in restitution.  

Both appeared before Judge Janis Sammartino of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California and are the latest U.S. Navy officials to plead guilty and be sentenced in the expansive corruption and fraud investigation involving foreign defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis (known as Fat Leonard) and his Singapore-based ship husbanding company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA).

Breslau, 52, of Cumming, Georgia, was charged in September 2018 and pleaded guilty today to one count of criminal conflict of interest, admitting that while he was still employed by the U.S. Navy, he was paid over $60,000 by Francis in return for providing Francis with public relations consulting services. Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribery and fraud charges, admitting that he presided over a massive, decade-long conspiracy involving “scores” of U.S. Navy officials, tens of millions of dollars in fraud and millions of dollars in bribes and lavish gifts, including luxury travel, airline upgrades, five-star hotel accommodations, top-shelf alcohol, the services of prostitutes, Cuban cigars, Kobe beef and Spanish suckling pigs.

According to admissions made as part of his guilty plea, from October 2009 until July 2012, Breslau was a Captain in the U.S. Navy assigned as Director of Public Affairs for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, headquartered in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. As part of his duties, Breslau was involved in devising the U.S. Navy’s public affairs communications strategy and provided public affairs guidance to Pacific Fleet components and other U.S. Navy commands. From August 2012 until July 2014, Breslau was assigned to the Commanding Officer for the Joint Public Affairs Support Element in Norfolk, Virginia, where he was responsible for leading joint crisis communications teams. 

Breslau admitted that from March 2012 until September 2013, while serving in the above roles for the U.S. Navy, he provided Leonard Francis with public relations consulting services, including providing advice on how to respond to issues and controversies related to Francis’ ship husbanding business with the U.S. Navy. These included issues related to port visit costs, allegations of malfeasance such as the unauthorized dumping of waste, disputes with competitors and issues with Pacific Fleet and contracting personnel.  

Breslau authored, reviewed or edited at least 33 separate documents; authored at least 135 emails providing advice to Francis, provided at least 14 instances of “talking points” in advance of meetings between Francis and high ranking U.S. Navy personnel and “ghostwrote” numerous emails on Francis’s behalf to be transmitted to U.S. Navy personnel. During the course of this consulting agreement, Francis paid Breslau approximately $65,000 without Breslau disclosing the agreement to the U.S. Navy.    

David was charged in August 2018, pleaded guilty in September, and was sentenced this week on corruption conspiracy charges. As a Master Chief, he was the senior-most enlisted sailor in the U.S. Navy. During the period of the illegal conduct, David was assigned various logistics positions with the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, including with the Fleet Industrial Supply Center in Yokosuka, Japan from June 2001 to July 2004, on the USS Essex from July 2004 to August 2007, on the USS Kitty Hawk from September 2007 to August 2008 and on the USS George Washington from September 2008 to July 2010. David was responsible for ordering and verifying goods and services for the ships on which he served, including from contractors during port calls. Throughout this period, David received from Francis various things of value, including five star hotel rooms during every port visit.   

David repeatedly facilitated fraud on the United States by allowing Francis and GDMA to inflate the husbanding invoices to bill for services never rendered. For example, David instructed Francis to inflate invoices for the USS Essex’s anticipated November 2007 port visit to the Philippines. “Boss, Just in case I’m not on the port visit you can go ahead do your thing[,] put some dollar on the CHT/Water/Trash or Force protection[.] [Y]ou and me are the only one will know[,] just put them on my savings if we can do that . . . more power.”  David signed this email “V/r, Bad Boy.”  

On May 9, 2007, David emailed Francis again reiterating his instruction to inflate the invoices for Francis’s company: “Just in case I’m not on that port visit you can go ahead do your thing put some dollar on the CHT/Water/Trash or Force protection[.]  [J]ust you and me are the only one will know[.]  [J]ust put them on my savings if we can do that . . . just getting ready for my retirement home in P.I. [M]ore power to you.”  

On July 11, 2007, David sent a third email instructing Francis to inflate the invoices during the USS Essex port visit to the Philippines: “Good day to you, just to let you know [I]’m heading to the mighty [USS Kitty Hawk] and the Essex will be there in Subic sometimes in November[.] [T]he one who replace me here in stock control dont have any clue so i’am giving you the permission to do whatever you want to do with the bills…throw extra dollar on the CHT/Water etc… [T]hey w[]ere all [a]utomatic take ups which the ship don’t pay for it… [J]ust don’t forget me please[.] [M]y house in P.I. is not finish yet, ok??”

Their corrupt bargain continued as David transitioned to his new position aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk. On or about May 8, 2008, Francis’s company paid approximately 84,637.00 HKD for hotel reservations at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong for U.S. Navy personnel assigned to the USS Kitty Hawk including 10,396 HKD for David’s four-night stay in a Harbor View Room.

“Breslau and David selfishly traded on their revered positions of trust in exchange for cash payments and entertainment expenses,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “We will vigorously prosecute any public official who puts his own selfish personal interests ahead of the interests of the Navy and our nation.”

So far, 33 defendants have been charged and 22 have pleaded guilty.