Authorities in Venezuela apprehended “Fat Leonard,” known in real life as Leonard Glenn Francis, a military contractor who cut off his ankle bracelet and fled after pleading guilty to a major Navy corruption scandal.
Who is Leonard Glenn Francis?
Two weeks after cutting off his ankle monitor and evading home detention in San Diego, a wealthy Malaysian contractor who oversaw one of the longest-running bribery scandals in the history of the US Navy was apprehended in Venezuela, an Interpol official announced on Wednesday.
Leonard Glenn Francis, also known as Fat Leonard, was apprehended by Interpol agents while attempting to board a flight to Russia. Interpol’s Venezuelan director, Carlos Gárate Rondón, posted on Instagram late Wednesday.
Mr. Francis, 57, had entered the country from Mexico with a stopover in Cuba, according to Mr. Rondón.
He was detained at the Simon Bolivar International Airport, which is located outside of Caracas, Venezuela’s capital.
A supervisory deputy U.S. marshal named Omar Castillo confirmed the arrest on Thursday. The Marshals Service issued a red notice, asking law enforcement agencies everywhere to find and detain a person pending extradition, and this is how Mr. Francis was apprehended.
Mr. Castillo stated that Mr. Francis was in Interpol Venezuela’s custody and that “working on extradition proceedings will be the next step.”
All the agencies involved made an enormous effort, according to Mr. Castillo.
We had been following this individual for some time, so learning that Interpol had located him in Venezuela was fantastic. We are eager to bring him back to face punishment.
The arrest came just hours before Mr. Francis was scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Janis L. Sammartino in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, in San Diego. Informed by the Marshals Service that Mr. Francis was in custody, Judge Sammartino set a status hearing for him on Dec. 14, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in San Diego said in an email.
Mr. Francis faces up to 25 years in prison after he pleaded guilty in 2015 to conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to defraud the United States. He has agreed to forfeit $35 million in gains.
In a statement, a lawyer for Mr. Francis, Devin Burstein, said he had informed the court that, “at a subsequent hearing, we would move to withdraw as counsel based on an irreparable breakdown in the attorney-client relationship.”
Mr. Burstein declined to elaborate.
Mr. Francis was under house arrest in San Diego when he cut off his GPS anklet on Sept. 4. Neighbors told the Marshals Service that they had seen U-Haul trucks at Mr. Francis’ house in the days leading up to his escape.
He had been living with his three children in a multimillion-dollar home in a gated community, and the authorities believed he fled with them. The whereabouts of the children was not immediately known.
Mr. Francis is at the center of a fraud and bribery case that has resulted in federal criminal charges against more than 30 U.S. Navy officials and defense contractors, according to the Justice Department.
More than two dozen people have pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme, admitting that they took money from Mr. Francis in exchange for lucrative military contracts for his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, in the form of lavish travel, lodging, meals, or the services of prostitutes worth millions of dollars.
The multinational company, which has its headquarters in Singapore, provided the Navy with supplies and services for its ships and submarines when they docked.
Prosecutors claimed that Mr. Francis overcharged the Navy by a total of more than $35 million.
In what the Justice Department at the time referred to as a “decade-long conspiracy,” Mr. Francis was detained in 2013 and entered a guilty plea in 2015.
This case involved tens of millions of dollars in fraud as well as bribes and gifts given to Navy officials, including Cuban cigars, Kobe beef, and Spanish suckling pigs.
At his home, Mr. Francis was supposed to have 24-hour security. However, court officials started to worry about the home’s security in 2020 after learning that there was no security guard on duty during the day at his home.
The Marshals Service said there was no security guard at his home when they responded to reports of Mr. Francis’ escape earlier this month.