U.S. Navy Captain Sentenced to Prison for Role in GDMA Scandal


Published Feb 26, 2023 5:16 PM by The Maritime Executive

A federal jury in San Diego has sentenced Capt. Jesus Vasquez Cantu (USN) to 30 months in prison for his role in the long-running Glenn Defense Marine Asia corruption scandal, better known as the "Fat Leonard" affair. 

Cantu pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery in 2017. He was one of dozens of servicemembers, officers and civilian employees who pleaded guilty to charges of bribery in connection with the procurement scandal, including a flag officer. As of mid-2022, 33 people have been convicted in connection with the scheme. 

Before leaving the Navy in 2014, Cantu was the deputy commander of Military Sealift Command (MSC) Far East, based in Singapore. Earlier, in 2007, he served aboard the command ship USS Blue Ridge - the hub of Francis' corruption scheme - where he served as the assistant chief of staff for logistics for Seventh Fleet. He admitted that he had been part of the team of Blue Ridge officers who accepted meals, entertainment, travel and hotel expenses, and the services of prostitutes from Francis. In exchange, these personnel worked together to help Francis secure and keep Navy business in the form of ship husbandry contracts. 

As part of his plea agreement, Cantu became a witness for the prosecution in the trials of his co-conspirators. 

“Like so many others, this defendant sold out the Navy and his country for cocktails and karaoke," said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson at the time of Cantu's plea. 

The ringleader, contractor Leonard "Fat Leonard" Glenn Francis, pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribery and fraud charges, and he helped prosecutors bring cases against the Navy personnel he had corrupted. He admitted that he had presided over a decade-long conspiracy involving countless U.S. Navy officials, tens of millions of dollars in fraud and millions of dollars in bribes and lavish gifts, including luxury travel, five-star hotel accommodations, top-shelf alcohol, the services of prostitutes, Cuban cigars, and other inducements. 

Francis fled home detention in September and escaped to Venezuela, where he was apprehended by local authorities on an Interpol warrant. He has not been extradited to the United States.