Former rear admiral gets 18-month prison sentence in ‘Fat Leonard’ scandal

A former rear admiral in the U.S. Navy received an 18-month prison sentence and was demoted two ranks to captain Wednesday for his part in a far-reaching bribery and fraud scandal.

He also must pay $50,000 restitution to the U.S. Navy and a $100,000 fine.

Robert J. Gilbeau, 56, of San Diego was one of 20 active and former U.S. officials charged as part of the investigation. Nine other officials have pleaded guilty to various charges and other 10 cases remain pending.

The long-running investigation was dubbed “the Fat Leonard case” after Leonard Glenn Francis’s nickname. Francis first began courting Gilbeau in 1997, using gifts such as prostitutes, fancy dinners, and expensive hotels, according to prosecutors.

Five executives from Malaysian business tycoon Francis’ company Glenn Defense Marine Asia also have pleaded guilty.

Gilbeau was convicted in June 2016, becoming the first U.S. Navy admiral on active duty to be convicted of a felony in modern history. He must report June 23 to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. He is free on bond until then.

Leonard Glenn Francis

Gilbeau was charged with lying to federal agents about receiving gifts from Francis, who also owns a defense contractor based in Singapore. Attorney David Benowitz said Gilbeau denied overcharging the U.S. Navy on invoices or taking money to do it.

Janis Sammartino, the U.S. District Court judge overseeing the case, said in a statement that Gilbeau had destroyed data files and documents in an attempt to cover up his dealings with Francis.

In exchange, Gilbeau approved overbilled invoices for services like removing garbage from U.S. Navy aircraft carriers. Francis was taken into custody in September 2013.

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