Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis, the portly and crooked military contractor who bilked US taxpayers out of $35 million before becoming a star witness against dozens of corrupt US Navy and Marine Corps leaders, is believed to have been smuggled across the border into Mexico after he left his San Diego County home on Sept. 4, 2022. Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.
“We’re still following some leads and we’re not allowed to talk about those, but we now definitely believe he left the country and, well, we’re very close to the Mexican border,” Omar Castillo, the supervisory deputy US marshal in San Diego, told Coffee or Die Magazine.
Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis, the portly and corrupt military contractor who bilked the US taxpayer out of $35 million and embroiled a generation of Navy leaders in an ongoing graft scandal, removed his Global Positioning System tracker around 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 4, at his mansion in the Carmel Valley section of San Diego County.
The US Marshals and Naval Criminal Investigative Service each ponied up half of the $40,000 reward for information leading to Fat Leonard’s capture. Castillo told Coffee or Die his agency sought and Interpol issued a Red Notice urging law enforcement worldwide to locate and arrest the fugitive.
Corrupt defense contractor Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis, 57, vanished from his Carmel Valley, California, home on Sept. 4, 2022, only weeks before he was slated to be sentenced for his role in a $35 million scheme to defraud the US taxpayer. Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.
Nabbed in a federal undercover sting operation in 2013, Fat Leonard pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud charges two years later.
Francis, 57, then became a star witness for federal prosecutors in a string of more than 30 high-profile convictions of senior commissioned and enlisted noncommissioned officers and civilian officials, including Rear Adm. Robert Gilbeau; Capt. Daniel Dusek, the ex- commander of the amphibious warship Bonhomme Richard; and Capt. David A. “Too Tall” Lausman, the former skipper of the aircraft carrier George Washington and the flagship of the US 7th Fleet, Blue Ridge.
On house confinement since 2018 due to reported health problems, the Malaysian tycoon repeatedly has told investigators and juries his tales of plying senior sailors with prostitutes, cash bribes, champagne feasts, and luxury resort accommodations across the Pacific Rim in exchange for lucrative ship husbanding contracts when the vessels pulled into the “pearl ports” controlled by his Singapore-based company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia.
Castillo said the fugitive, who has been using a wheelchair for years, is believed to have absconded with his Malaysian passport.
Federal agents say Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis, 57, has fled his Carmel Valley, California, residence where he’d been on home confinement for four years. The fugitive’s flight came nearly nine years after his Sept. 16, 2013, arrest in San Diego during a federal sting operation, with his description here noted in his arrest warrant. US Department of Justice image.
It remains unclear why a man who pleaded guilty to felonies seven years ago continued to possess a foreign passport.
The agency that was supposed to be monitoring Francis before he went on the lam, US Pretrial Services, referred all questions back to Castillo.
“He had time to plan this out, and now he’s doing that plan now and we’re chasing him,” said Castillo.
NCIS spokesperson Jeff Houston told Coffee or Die his agency, Castillo’s US Marshals Service, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the US attorney’s office are jointly searching for Leonard.
Blue Ridge, the flagship of the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, anchors off the coast of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, on May 1, 2012. The vessel often was at the center of the public corruption scandal involving defense contractor Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis. US Navy photo.
By raising Fat Leonard’s flight to a major crime, Castillo’s agency put eight deputy US marshals in San Diego alone on the case, plus the help of inspectors worldwide.
The goal is to interdict Francis before he reaches a country that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the US, such as Iran, the Solomon Islands, or East Timor.
“We’re working with Mexican authorities to see if his name was on a plane manifest out of the country,” Castillo said.
Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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