Ethics: The Navy and Fat Leonard

7th Fleet Mafia

The US Justice Department has charged nine more senior Navy officials in the long-running scandal where the Japan-based 7th fleet staff conducted what amounts to a continuing criminal enterprise as they illegally passed information to Leonard Francis, owner of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA).

“Fat Leonard”, as he is known, used the information to undercut competitors and win contracts to service war ships.

Defense News reports, “a total of 25 individuals have been charged in connection with the corruption and fraud investigation … Of those charged, 20 are current or former U.S. Navy officials and five are GDMA executives. Thirteen of those charged already have pleaded guilty.”

Leonard “did it up right”, as they say, showering officers with extremely lavish dinners, gifts, parties and port-stays.

The Washington Post says, “Francis allegedly hosted a sex party for officers in the MacArthur Suite of the Manila hotel. During the party, “historical memorabilia related to General Douglas MacArthur were used by the participants in sexual acts,” according to the indictment.”

In Tokyo, he “took officers to the luxurious Oak Door restaurant, according to the indictment. The meal included foie gras, lobster thermidor, Sendai tenderloin, cognac and cigars.

For dessert: the “Liberte Sauvage,” (wild freedom) the winning cake at the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie, a prestigious international baking contest.”

Some dinners cost thousands of dollars, one was over $18,000.

Nimitz Strike Group

One of those charged, Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, underwent, according to Defense News, “a publicly embarrassing, nearly 900-day period serving first as the Navy’s director of intelligence operations – but with his security clearance revoked pending the results of the Justice investigation. He, along with his boss, director of intelligence Vice Adm. Ted “Twig” Branch, were not allowed to attend classified briefings or even enter their offices, which were considered classified areas.”

How can you have a job for over 2 1/2 years that you are barred from doing?


The Justice Department indictment states that officers recruited new members to the criminal enterprise and actively worked to keep it secret.

Since some of the activity goes back to 2006 and involves so many senior officers, it’s not a stretch to say that the 7th fleet has a well established and organized culture of corruption, at least at the top.

The question is what to do about it and whether or not other commands are engaging in similar activity.

The Post reports the Navy as saying 30 admirals are under investigation.

It seems clear that “going out” on a contractor’s dime under extravagant circumstances is an accepted practice, too.

The larger question may be how the Navy got to such a point to begin with.

Having a Naval officer “on the take” is very serious but having a fleet-wide criminal enterprise is catastrophic.

It’s fair to question what current and former Pacific Fleet Commanders did to instill and maintain a culture of honesty and integrity.

Not much, apparently.



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