A lieutenant commander in the Navy’s Western Pacific supply chain pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud charges on Thursday, the latest in a string of prosecutions in the so-called ‘Fat Leonard’ corruption scandal out of Singapore.
Gentry Debord, 41, made the plea to a Southern California district judge acknowledging that he accepted cash, stays in luxury hotels and sessions with prostitutes from a foreign defense contractor in return to providing confidential Navy information, the Justice Department announced.
As a logistics and supply officer, Debord was in a position to supply the company called Glenn Defense Marine Asia with inside information about competitors’ bids and details on an investigation into the company’s billing practices. So far, five GDMA executives and 11 Navy employees have been convicted of involvement of bribes to Navy personnel to obtain ship port schedules.
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Debord was also found to have advocated for and advanced GDMA’s interests, in part by approving inflated invoices for services never rendered that he directed CEO Leonard Glenn Francis to submit. “As part of this conspiracy, Debord, Francis and others attempted to conceal the bribes given to Debord as well as the nature and extent of his relationship with Francis,” a Justice statement said. "This was done by, for example, using coded language in communications referring to prostitutes as 'cheesecake' or 'bodyguards.'"
Debord also admitted to asking a GDMA executive to provide him with three hotel rooms, two cell phones, a van and 2,000 Singapore dollars. He instructed the executive to recover the value of these items by inflating the amount that GDMA would invoice the U.S. Navy for potable water and trash removal service for a U.S.S. Essex port visit to Singapore.
The case was investigated by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Defense Contract Audit Agency. Justice’s prosecutors are Assistant Chief Brian Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Pletcher and Patrick Hovakimian of the Southern District of California.