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Petty Officer Censured for Graft in Long-Running GDMA Scandal

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USS Cushing off Phuket, 2004, the year of LSC Guno's assignment aboard (USN file image). Prosecutors described Phuket as a "fat revenue" port for GDMA at the time.

By The Maritime Executive 01-16-2020 09:23:00

In the latest in a long string of actions related to the Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) contracting scandal, the acting secretary of the U.S. Navy has issued a letter of censure for a chief petty officer who allegedly signed off on the company's inflated invoices.

According to the Navy, now-retired Chief Logistics Specialist (LSC) Ulysis T. Guno sustained an improper relationship with GDMA and its owner, Leonard "Fat Leonard" Glenn Francis. While serving aboard USS Cushing as the supply leading chief petty officer, and again while filling the same role at a logistics support detachment in Singapore, Guno allegedly accepted gifts worth a combined $10,000 from Francis and GDMA. In return, he allegedly recommended the approval of invoices on which he knew or believed GDMA was overbilling the Navy.

“The Navy’s core values include high standards of ethical conduct for all Sailors, and chief petty officers must not only meet those high standards but model them for others.  By abusing his position to solicit and receive gifts from a defense contractor, LSC (Ret.) Guno utterly failed to meet those standards. LSC (Ret.) Guno’s behavior is an embarrassment to the Navy, to the sailors who served with him, and to the thousands of sailors who serve this country day in and day out with pride, professionalism, and integrity,” said Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly in a statement.

The Justice Department contends that all told, GDMA managed to overcharge the Navy about $35 million by enlisting the help of servicemembers to direct business to GDMA-served port facilities in the Far East, then submitting inflated ship's agency and bunkering charges. Multiple high-ranking officers have been prosecuted successfully in federal court over their involvement with GDMA, but the Department of Justice has declined to press charges against many other Navy servicemembers and employees who were investigated in the course of the probe. In 2014, the Secretary of the Navy created an in-house review board for personnel who were implicated but not prosecuted. For five years, that board has been going through the process of determining which cases merit disciplinary or administrative action. That effort continues alongside the DOJ-led criminal investigation. 

Compared to the multi-million-dollar total of GDMA's overbilling, the Navy servicemembers involved in the scandal received relatively little in return for assisting GDMA - typically a matter of several thousand dollars' worth of gifts, hotel stays, meals, travel and personal services, according to charging documents. The best-compensated GDMA collaborator may well have been not a flag officer, but a civilian administrator: In 2018, Singaporean national Sharon Rachael Gursharan Kaur admitted to receiving about $100,000 from Francis while she was employed as a U.S. Navy lead contract specialist.