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Retired Marine Colonel Pleads Guilty in "Fat Leonard" Bribery Case

retired marine pleads guilty in bribery and fraud case

Published Sep 8, 2021 7:54 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

The U.S. Department of Justice announced the second guilty plea from an officer of the Seventh Fleet in the long-running “Fat Leonard” bribery and fraud scandal. Four and a half years after the grand jury indicted nine members of the Seventh Fleet, a U.S. Marine Corps Colonel, Enrico DeGuzman, pleaded guilty to a bribery charge bring to 27 the number of guilty pleas out of 34 U.S. Navy officers, defense contractors, and the Singapore-based Glen Defense Marine Asia facing criminal charges related to the wide reaching bribery and fraud case.

In the latest guilty plea, the retired officer admitted to accepting more than $67,000 in extravagant meals, drinks, entertainment, and hotel stays in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo from defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis. Like the others in the case, the charges stem from accepting gifts and participating in the meals and other activities in exchange for helping to advance Francis’ business.

DeGuzman, however, also admitted to evaluating and indoctrinating potential new Navy members into Francis’s scheme. DeGuzman served on the Seventh Fleet Staff as the Fleet Marine Officer from July 2004 to July 2007.  In this role, he was responsible for coordinating the mission of the U.S. Marine Corps within the Seventh Fleet.  From July 2007 to January 1, 2011, DeGuzman served as the Assistant Chief of Staff of Operations for U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, and thereafter, DeGuzman served in a civilian capacity as the Deputy Chief of Staff of Operations for U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific.

DeGuzman admitted that he sought to influence Navy ships into ports serviced by GDMA while he also shared confidential Navy information with Francis to help GDMA. Prosecutors cited in the plea a moment of candor in an email DeGuzman sent when he departed his Seventh Fleet assignment. In July 2007, he wrote to Francis, “[U]nfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to influence people [in my next assignment] like I did there at 7th Fleet.”

“Mr. DeGuzman knowingly misused his position of trust as a senior U.S. Marine Corps officer to actively work with, and advocate for, a corrupt U.S. Navy contractor, while expecting and receiving lavish gifts in return, all at the expense of the U.S. Navy and the national security interests of the United States,” said Kelly P. Mayo, the Director of the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS).   

Enrico DeGuzman, age 63 and a resident of Las Vegas, Nevada faces a maximum penalty of fifteen years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Seven additional defendants were members of the Seventh Fleet and still face charges accused of trading military secrets and substantial influence for sex parties with prostitutes and luxurious dinners and travel. The trial of the remaining defendants was scheduled to begin November 1, 2021, but has now been postponed until February 7, 2022.  Among the defendants is U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless. The others are Captains David Newland, James Dolan, Donald Hornbeck, and David Lausman; Commander Stephen Shedd; and Commander Mario Herrera.