Fugitive Involved in US Navy Bribery Scandal Captured in Venezuela While Attempting to Board Plane

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According to the Associated Press, Leonard Glenn Francis (also known as Fat Leonard) was stopped by Venezuelan authorities at Caracas airport on Tuesday while attempting to board a flight to Russia. Francis was a Malaysian defense contractor and was involved in a huge bribery scheme involving the U.S Navy.

A manhunt was launched worldwide after the defense contractor fled the United States prior to his sentencing.

Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to prostitution, bribes, and luxury hotels offering prostitution services to U.S Navy officers and other officials in return for assistance with his ship servicing business based in Singapore. He confessed to paying over $500,000 in bribes.

Francis’ company was accused by the Navy of charging more than $35 million to service ships. Many of the Navy vessels Francis’ company served were routed to Pacific ports controlled by Francis.

Francis was permitted to remain under house arrest while he waited for sentencing. He received medical care in return for his cooperation in identifying the Navy officers implicated in the bribery scheme. Francis was instrumental in securing convictions for 33 out of 34 defendants.

Janis Sammartino, U.S. District Judge, denied Francis’ request for house arrest without a permanent security presence in fear that Francis would run. Sammartino, however, insisted that security guards be on-site.

Francis escaped from San Diego earlier this month by removing his GPS ankle bracelet. Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Omar Castillo stated that no security guards arrived at law enforcement’s arrival nearly seven hours after the monitor had been removed.

Castillo said that residents saw moving trucks at the house one to two days before Francis’ escape.

He was issued a red alert and given a $40,000 reward by authorities.

Francis made a stopover in Cuba while on his way from Mexico to Venezuela. He then fled to Venezuela, Interpol Venezuela Director-General Carlos Garate Rondon stated in an Instagram statement.

After trying to board a flight to Russia, Francis was taken into custody at the country’s main international Airport.

Francis is not yet known when he will be extradited for sentencing. Although law enforcement cooperation between the United States of Venezuela and the United States is not common, Director General Rondon reported Wednesday the fact that Francis would be turned over to authorities in order to start the extradition process.