Third Navy official charged in bribery case
(CNN) — A third U.S. Navy official has been charged in a case accusing them of accepting prostitution and other services from a Singapore-based defense contractor in exchange for business and favorable treatment, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in San Diego.
U.S. Navy Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez, 41, was arrested Wednesday in Florida and is expected to be taken to San Diego to face charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, the office said.
Facing the same charge in Sanchez’s case is contractor Leonard Glenn Francis, a Malaysian citizen and CEO of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd.
Francis — arrested earlier this year in San Diego — also is charged in the other Navy officials’ cases.
Federal prosecutors allege Sanchez, as deputy logistics officer in the U.S. 7th Fleet and later as the Fleet Logistics Command’s operations director, directed Navy business and sensitive information to Francis’ company, which provides security, supplies and other services to U.S. Navy ships at various ports.
In return, Francis gave Sanchez more than $100,000, travel expenses and prostitutes during a period covering January 2009 to April 2013, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
“According to the allegations in this case, a number of officials were willing to sacrifice their integrity and millions of taxpayer dollars for personal gratification,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said Wednesday. “While the overwhelming majority of the 400,000 active duty Navy personnel conduct themselves in a manner that is beyond reproach, we and our law enforcement partners … continue to investigate the allegations of fraud and corruption that tarnish the stellar reputation of the U.S. Navy.”
Sanchez is accused of giving Francis Navy ship schedules and other classified information to help Francis’ company win and maintain Navy business, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
Sanchez is alleged to have e-mailed to Francis internal Navy discussions about the company, including legal opinions, and made recommendations in the company’s favor about port visits, according to the office.
Federal prosecutors also allege that Francis, in an October 2011 e-mail, asked Sanchez to use his company to refuel a U.S. Navy ship at a Thai port. “Ask and you shall receive. … We worked this out this morning,” Sanchez allegedly responded in an e-mail, according to federal prosecutors.
As a result, the USS Mustin paid more than $1 million for fuel from Francis’ company at Laem Chabang, Thailand — more than twice what it would have cost under an agreement previously negotiated by the Navy, federal prosecutors allege.
Francis “allegedly hired female escorts for Sanchez and friends on multiple occasions,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a news release.
Calls seeking comment from Sanchez’s attorney — assistant federal public defender Adam Allen of Florida — and Francis’ attorney, Edward P. Swan Jr. of San Diego — weren’t immediately returned Thursday.
Two other Navy officials — Cmdr. Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz and Naval Criminal Investigative Service Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau II — were arrested in probes involving Francis’ company in September.
According to federal prosecutors, Misiewicz, 46, as deputy operations officer of the U.S. 7th Fleet, helped schedule visits of U.S. Navy ships to ports where Francis’ company worked.
“In return, Francis provided Misiewicz with paid travel, luxury hotel stays and prostitution services,” the San Diego U.S. attorney’s office said.
The information Misiewicz passed on to Francis was “confidential,” meaning its disclosure could cause serious harm to U.S. national security, the U.S. attorney’s office said. It detailed Navy ship movements months in advance, according to the U.S. attorney.
A separate complaint alleges Beliveau, 44, provided Francis with information about an NCIS fraud investigation into his company’s dealings with the Navy.
“In exchange, Francis provided Beliveau with, among other things, paid travel, luxury hotel stays and prostitution services,” the U.S. attorney’s office said.
The complaint states that Beliveau made arrangements to travel to Bangkok, Thailand, through the same travel agent Francis used.
No evidence was found that Beliveau paid for his hotel or travel, or that he reimbursed Francis for the trip. Francis also arranged for a female escort to entertain Beliveau while there, according to the complaint.
In return, Francis allegedly saved 125 NCIS investigative reports to his government computer. The affidavit states the reports were in connection with the NCIS investigation into Glenn Defense Marine Asia — Francis’ company.
All four men are charged with conspiring to commit bribery and could face up to five years in prison if convicted.
Beliveau was arrested in Virginia and Misiewicz in Colorado, where he was serving with the U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base.
If true, the allegations against Misiewicz will tarnish what has been an inspiring immigrant success story.
Born in Cambodia and adopted by an American woman serving in the U.S. Army in Phnom Penh, Misiewicz came to the United States in 1973, a few years before the Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia. Millions died during the group’s brutal reign in what became known as the “Killing Fields.”
Misiewicz went on to earn his commission from the U.S. Naval Academy and in 2010 was in command of the destroyer USS Mustin when it made a port call in Cambodia.
“It is important for me to be strong and to remember and honor the sacrifices that were made for me,” Misiewicz said at the time, according to a Navy News Service report. “Both Cambodians and Americans in my young life sacrificed life and happiness so I could have a better life.”
“Anything is possible. You can start anywhere, any place, if you’ve got freedom and you have opportunity like we have in the U.S., the sky is the limit,” he said in the report.