A commander in the U.S. Navy pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges today, admitting that he provided a government contractor with classified ship schedules and other internal U.S. Navy information in exchange for cash, travel and entertainment expenses, as well as the services of prostitutes. A second U.S. Navy officer was also indicted today on related bribery charges by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of California.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California, Director Andrew L. Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Deputy Inspector General of Investigations James B. Burch of the Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) made the announcement.
“Commander Sanchez sold out his command and country for cash bribes, luxury hotel rooms and the services of prostitutes,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “After today’s guilty plea, instead of free stays at the Shangri-La hotel, Sanchez is facing many nights in federal prison. The Department of Justice’s Criminal Division is committed to prosecuting those who abuse positions of public trust for personal enrichment at the expense of national security and the American taxpayers.”
“During the course of the investigation into this criminal enterprise, investigators have compiled voluminous evidence identifying multiple persons of interest, generating numerous leads, and establishing and corroborating connections,” said Director Traver. “NCIS and our law enforcement partners are committed to seeing this massive fraud and bribery investigation through to its conclusion, so that those responsible are held accountable.”
“This outcome yet again sends the message that corruption will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted,” said Deputy Inspector General of Investigations Burch. “This is an unfortunate example of dishonorable Naval officers who recklessly risked the safety of our troops by trading classified information for cash, extravagant gifts and prostitutes. Cases such as these are not motivated by need or other difficult personal circumstances; they are the product of simple greed. This investigation should serve as a warning that those who compromise the integrity of the United States will face their day of reckoning. DCIS and our law enforcement partners will pursue these crimes relentlessly.”
Jose Luis Sanchez, 42, an active duty U.S. Navy Officer stationed in San Diego, Calif., is one of seven defendants charged – and the fifth to plead guilty – in the corruption probe involving Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), a defense contractor based in Singapore that serviced U.S. Navy ships and submarines throughout the Pacific. Sanchez pleaded guilty to bribery and bribery conspiracy before U.S. Magistrate Judge David H. Bartick of the Southern District of California. A sentencing hearing was scheduled for March 27, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino.
According to his plea agreement, from April 2008 to April 2013, Sanchez held various logistical positions with the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet in Asia. Sanchez admitted that, beginning in September 2009, he entered into a bribery scheme with Leonard Glenn Francis, the CEO of GDMA, in which Sanchez provided classified U.S. Navy ship schedules and other sensitive U.S. Navy information to Francis and used his position and influence within the U.S. Navy to benefit GDMA. In return, Francis gave him things of value such as cash, travel and entertainment expenses, and the services of prostitutes. Sanchez admitted that this bribery scheme continued until September 2013. Francis was charged in a complaint unsealed on Nov. 6, 2013, with conspiring to commit bribery; that charge remains pending.
In his plea agreement, Sanchez admitted to seven specific instances in which he provided Francis with classified U.S. Navy ship and submarine schedules. He also admitted using his position and influence with the U.S. Navy to benefit GDMA and Francis on various occasions. Further, Sanchez admitted that he tipped Francis off about investigations into GDMA overbillings and briefed Francis on internal U.S. Navy deliberations.
Sanchez further admitted that, in exchange for this information, Francis provided him with cash, entertainment and stays at high-end hotels. For example, in May 2012, Francis paid for Sanchez to stay five nights at the Shangri-La, a luxury hotel in Singapore, and, two months later, Francis paid for Sanchez’s travel from Asia to the United States, at a cost of over $7,500. Additionally, Francis arranged and paid for the services of prostitutes for Sanchez while Sanchez was in Singapore and elsewhere in Asia.
In addition to Sanchez, two other U.S. Navy officials – former NCIS Special Agent John Beliveau and Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug – have pleaded guilty in connection with this investigation.Two former GDMA executives, Alex Wisidagama and Edmond Aruffo, have likewise pleaded guilty.
Also today, an indictment was returned against U.S. Navy Captain-Select Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, 47, of San Diego, California, charging him with a bribery conspiracy and seven counts of bribery. According to allegations in the indictment, from at least as early as July 2011 until September 2013, Misiewicz provided classified U.S. Navy ship schedules and other sensitive U.S. Navy information to Francis and used his position and influence within the U.S. Navy to benefit GDMA. In return Francis allegedly gave him things of value such as cash, travel and entertainment expenses, and the services of prostitutes.
The charges contained in a criminal complaint and indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The ongoing investigation is being conducted by NCIS, DCIS and the Defense Contract Audit Agency. The case is being prosecuted by Director of Procurement Fraud Catherine Votaw and Trial Attorney Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher and Robert S. Huie of the Southern District of California.