US Navy Admiral Guilty in Fat Leonard Bribery Case


June 11, 2016 – – WASHINGTON — US Navy Rear Adm. Robert Gilbeau pleaded guilty today to one count in the Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) investigation, becoming the highest-ranking officer thus far to face federal criminal charges.

He becomes the 14th person federally indicted in the GDMA scandal, also known as the “Fat Leonard” case after a nickname for Leonard Francis, the organization’s top official. Gilbeau became the ninth person charged to plead guilty.

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Most of those charged were accused of accepting bribes and favors and committing fraud in exchange for information on US Navy ship movements in the western Pacific and arranging visits to specific ports where GDMA handled ship husbanding chores — the panoply of services needed by any ship visiting a foreign port.

Gilbeau, 55, a supply officer living in Burke, Virginia, pleaded guilty in a San Diego federal courthouse to making a false statement to federal investigators, but was not directly charged with criminal activity in conjunction with his relations to GDMA.

According to the Justice Department, Gilbeau admitted he lied when he told agents from the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) that he had never received any gifts from Francis, the owner of Singapore-based GDMA.

Gilbeau also admitted he lied in telling investigators that he “always paid for half of the dinner” when he and Francis met about three times a year, according to Justice. The one-star admiral further admitted that when he became aware that Francis and others had been arrested in connection with the fraud and bribery offenses in September 2013, he destroyed documents and deleted computer files.

Francis previously pleaded guilty to plying scores of other US Navy officials with gifts such as luxury travel, meals, cash, electronics, parties and prostitutes.

According to his service record, Gilbeau served as a supply officer aboard several ships that operated in GDMA’s territory. His most recent seagoing assignment was as supply officer aboard the aircraft carrier Nimitz, which operated in GDMA’s area during a 2003 deployment when Gilbeau was aboard. Gilbeau also served as a crisis action team leader during tsunami relief operations in early 2005. A 1983 graduate of the US Naval Academy, Gilbeau’s awards include the Legion of Merit, a Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, four Meritorious Service Medals, a Navy Unit Commendation and a Combat Action Ribbon.

The Justice Department, in a press release, did not specify the actions that led to the investigation targeting Gilbeau. But the release noted that Gilbeau, as supply officer on the Nimitz in 2003 and 2004, was responsible for procuring all goods and services necessary for operation of the ship. Justice noted that Gilbeau later served as head of the Tsunami Relief Crisis Action Team in Singapore, heading the Navy’s logistics response to the Southeast Asia tsunami in December 2004, and added that in June 2005, Gilbeau was assigned to the office of the Chief of Naval Operations as the head of aviation material support, establishing policies and requirements for budgeting and acquisitions for the Navy’s air forces.

Justice also noted that in August 2010 — apparently after being selected for the rank of rear admiral, which he assumed in September 2011 — Gilbeau assumed command of the Defense Contract Management Agency International, “where he was responsible for the global administration of DoD’s most critical contracts performed outside the United States, according to admissions made in connection with his plea.”

Gilbeau is the fourth officer in recent weeks to face federal charges in the GDMA case. Three other officers were charged on May 27: retired Capt. Michael Brooks; Cmdr. Bobby Pitts; and Lt. Cmdr. Gentry Debord. Those cases have not yet gone to trial.

The investigation is continuing under NCIS, DCIS and DCAA. Assistant Chief Brian Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant US Attorneys Mark Pletcher and Patrick Hovakimian of the Southern District of California are prosecuting the case.

Mary Greeley News