Do you remember Fat Leonard? Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau does. The retired admiral has been sentenced to 18 months of jail time for his involvement in the Fat Leonard bribery scandal, which cost the United States Navy more than $34 million over the course of a decade.
Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis, a Malaysian national and CEO of the Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) pled guilty to bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery, and conspiracy to defraud the United States in January of 2015. Fat Leonard reportedly bribed Navy officers and officials with over $500,000 in cash, prostitutes, extravagant parties, and other luxury items in exchange for classified information that would allow him to overcharge the U.S. Navy for services performed by GDMA such as maintenance and ground support work.
Gilbeau, who was convicted in June of 2016 and allowed to retire after a reduction of rank from rear admiral to captain, is the first active-duty admiral to be convicted of a federal crime. First meeting Fat Leonard in 1997, Gilbeau began a relationship with the GDMA executive. For years, the former admiral partied his way across Asia with Leonard footing the bill for the hotels, dinners, nightclubs, and prostitutes in exchange for signing invoices that overbilled the Navy. Gilbeau also destroyed evidence and claimed no connection to Leonard after the executive’s arrest in 2013.
A total of 25 individuals have been charged in connection to the Fat Leonard scandal, twenty of which are former or current Navy officers. The tendrils of this scandal run deep, and the ongoing investigation continues to reveal more Navy officers involved in the corruption and fraud.
Liberty Nation has discussed the pitfalls of unaudited military spending. In a previous report on President Trump’s proposed military spending increase, our readers learned of a 2015 student that identified $125 Billion in administrative waste within the Department of Defense. The Fat Leonard scandal is the tip of the fraud, waste, and abuse iceberg that plagues the military-industrial complex.
The increased Operations Tempo brought to us by the Global War on Terror brought an ever increasing reliance on government contractors to provide for many of the services needed by the military. Liberty Nation’s Boots on the Ground: Perspectives on Iraq series demonstrated the transition from a military to a contractor-centric presence in Iraq, and the hardships that entailed. This reliance on contract support has led to a rather pricey military budget. A 2013 report by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis found that the war in Afghanistan cost $2.1 million per Soldier and nearly two decades worth of war has put significant strain on our national economy.
Many politicians see our nation’s military as a hammer to solve all the nail-shaped problems of the world. For good or ill, we have become the world’s policeman and our military is getting stretched thin. Our requirements are too big for the military’s britches, and we will continue to rely on contract support if we do not scale back our global military presence.
Who will be the next Fat Leonard, and is he already here?