U.S. Navy admiral gets 18 months in bribery scandal

Julie Watson
Associated Press

San Diego — The first U.S. Navy admiral convicted of a federal crime while on active duty was sentenced Wednesday to 18 months in prison for lying to investigators about a Malaysian defense contractor at the center of a massive corruption scandal.

Robert Gilbeau was sentenced Wednesday in San Diego after pleading guilty to one count of making false statements.

“This is the first time our nation will incarcerate a Navy admiral for a federal crime committed during the course of his official duty, and it is truly a somber day,” Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson said in a statement. “When tempted by parties and prostitutes, one of our most respected leaders chose karaoke over character, and cover-up over confession, and in doing so he forever tarnished the reputation of a revered institution.”

Gilbeau wrote in a letter to the judge that he was “devastated” by the situation in which he finds himself.

“I have no one to blame but myself,” he wrote.

He added that the media has “painted me to be corrupt and despicable” but he is “still proud” of his service.

Gilbeau was convicted in June after admitting that he lied when he told federal agents that he had never received any gifts from Leonard Glenn Francis. The Navy allowed him to retire in October but reduced his rank from rear admiral to captain.

Nicknamed “Fat Leonard” because of his wide girth, Francis has admitted to bribing Navy officials with more than $500,000 in cash, prostitutes, and other gifts in exchange for classified information to help his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia. He is awaiting sentencing.

Francis and his company that supplies food and fuel to ships overbilled the Navy by more than $34 million, prosecutors said.

According to the government’s sentencing memo, Gilbeau spent years accepting cash, and having Francis foot the bill for late-night partying at nightclubs and karaoke bars, fine dining, luxury hotels and prostitutes.

In exchange, Gilbeau signed off on Francis’ company invoices that grossly overbilled the Navy. Twenty current and former Navy officials have been charged so far. Ten have pleaded guilty.