Corrupt defense contractor Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis, 57, has vanished from his Carmel Valley, California, home, only weeks before he was slated to be sentenced for his role in a $35 million scheme to defraud the US taxpayer. Coffee or Die Magazine composite.
“Fat Leonard” has vanished.
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, absconded from home confinement in California, according to the US Marshals Service.
Omar Castillo, the supervisory deputy US Marshal in San Diego, told Coffee or Die Magazine that Francis, 57, removed his Global Positioning System tracker around 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 4. His federal Pretrial Services caseworker dialed the San Diego Police Department to perform a welfare check, but the cops couldn't find Francis and the other members of his Carmel Valley household — an adult woman and two kids.
That's triggered an ongoing manhunt by Castillo’s Fugitive Task Force. Agents suspect the Malaysian man is trying to flee overseas, but Castillo said there’s no indication he’s succeeded in exiting the US.
“We have a few leads that we can’t disclose yet, but he seems to have been planning this out,” said Castillo, who also serves as a commissioned officer in the US Coast Guard Reserves.
Blue Ridge, the flagship of the US Navy's 7th Fleet enters Hong Kong for a port visit on March 15, 2012. The vessel often was at the center of a public corruption scandal tied to defense contractor Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis. US Navy photo.
Castillo said Francis’ neighbors reported that there had been a stream of U-Haul trucks removing Fat Leonard’s possessions in the days prior to his disappearance, but no one reported it.
“This guy will not be hard to miss,” Castillo said. “He’s been pretty much in a wheelchair for a while now. If anyone sees him, they should contact the US Marshals Service in your area or your local police.”
Pretrial Services officials in San Diego did not return Coffee or Die messages seeking comment.
Arrested in a federal undercover sting operation in 2013, Francis pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud charges two years later. He was slated to be sentenced Sept. 22 in San Diego and faced up to 25 years behind bars.
“I'm sorry, but I have no comment at this time,” wrote Francis’ San Diego attorney, Devin Burstein, in an email to Coffee or Die.
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 photo.
Although he was facing up to 25 years behind bars, Francis wasn’t likely to do the full stint in a federal penitentiary.
That’s because he’s been the government’s star witness in a string of more than 30 high-profile prosecutions against senior commissioned and enlisted non-commissioned 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 continued dishing to juries about how he plied 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.
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.
Francis also helped supply info tied to US Navy investigations of more than 400 officers and their sailors, often targeting leaders who avoided federal prosecution due to the statute of limitations expiring on their alleged crimes.
Authorities don’t believe Francis has been killed or kidnapped by any of the senior leaders he helped put away. Castillo said agents aren’t even sure about his motives for fleeing.
“We have no idea what the motive could be,” he told Coffee or Die. “Maybe it’s to get one up on the US government one more time, but we don’t know.”
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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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