SAN DIEGO — Officers in a burgeoning Navy bribery scandal called themselves the Lion King’s Harem, the Wolfpack, the Cool Kids and the Brotherhood. They scouted for others who might also accept sex, trips and other lavish perks from a Malaysian defense contractor known as “Fat Leonard” in exchange for classified information.
Allegations outlined in an indictment unsealed in San Diego on Tuesday give more details in the 3-year-old scandal that had appeared to be fading before re-emerging even bigger and more sordid than before.
Nine current and former military officers were charged in the latest indictment, including a recently retired rear admiral who collected foreign intelligence for the Navy’s Seventh Fleet.
It gives an extensive list of bribes to the officers from 2006 to 2012 from Leonard Francis in exchange for classified shipping schedules and other information to help his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia.
In one example, a party with prostitutes at the Manila Hotel’s MacArthur Suite during a 2007 port call to the Philippines included sex acts using historic MacArthur memorabilia.
One meal during a 2006 port visit to Hong Kong cost $20,435. Prosecutors say Francis, who is nicknamed Fat Leonard for his wide girth, bilked the Navy out of nearly $35 million, largely by overcharging for his company’s services supplying Navy ships in the Pacific with food, water, fuel and other necessities.
Navy officers provided classified information to Francis that helped him beat competitors and, in some instances, commanders steered ships to ports in the Pacific where his company could charge fake tariffs and fees, prosecutors said.
The latest indictment raises the number of current and former officials charged to 20 in one of the Navy’s worst corruption scandals.
Bruce Loveless, who recently retired, became the second admiral charged in the investigation.
Adm. John Richardson, the Navy’s top officer, vowed on Tuesday to repair damage caused by the scandal.
“This behavior is inconsistent with our standards and the expectations the nation has for us as military professionals,” he said. “It damages the trust that the nation places in us, and is an embarrassment to the Navy.”
Loveless, 53, made no substantive comments during a brief hearing hours after his arrest at his Coronado home near San Diego. Magistrate Judge Mitchell Dembin entered a not guilty plea on his behalf and ordered him released without bail. — AP