Navy officer pleads guilty to felony charges in San Diego federal court

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — A Navy officer pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court Thursday to felony charges he lied to investigators to conceal his illicit years-long relationship with Glenn "Fat Leonard” Francis, a foreign defense contractor at the center of a massive bribery and fraud scandal.

Navy Rear Adm. Robert Gilbeau, 55, is the highest-ranking Navy officer charged in the investigation so far, and is believed to be the first active-duty Naval flag officer ever charged in federal criminal court.

Gilbeau — who remains free on a $75,000 bond — faces a maximum of five years in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 26 by U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino.

The Virginia resident also has agreed to pay $50,000 restitution to the U.S. Navy, pay a $100,000 fine and perform 300 hours of community service over the course of two years.

"Of those who wear our nation’s uniform in the service of our country, only a select few have been honored to hold the rank of Admiral … and not a single one is above the law,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said. "Admiral Gilbeau lied to federal agents investigating corruption and fraud, and then tried to cover up his deception by destroying documents and files. Whether the evidence leads us to a civilian, to an enlisted service member or to an admiral, as this investigation expands we will continue to hold responsible all those who lied or who corruptly betrayed their public duties for personal gain.”

In his plea agreement, Gilbeau admitted that he lied when he told agents from Defense Criminal Investigative Service and Naval Criminal Investigative Service that he had never received any gifts from Francis, the owner of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

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

According to his plea agreement, Gilbeau lied when he told investigators that he "always paid for half of the dinner” when he and Francis met about three times a year. When Gilbeau became aware that Francis and others had been arrested in connection with the bribery and fraud scheme in September 2013, he destroyed documents and deleted computer files.

Most of the other Navy officials charged in the case so far have faced allegations that in return for lavish gifts, they brazenly used their public offices to heap benefit after benefit upon Francis and GDMA, including passing on classified U.S. Navy information to advance GDMA’s business interests.

Gilbeau pleaded guilty to making false statements from November 2012 to October 2013, about the nature of his relationship with Francis and his receipt of things of value over the course of years from Francis.

According to charging documents, in 2003 and 2004, Gilbeau was the supply officer on the USS Nimitz, where he was responsible for procuring all goods and services necessary for operation of the ship. He 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.

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.

After he was promoted to admiral, Gilbeau assumed command in August 2010 of the Defense Contract Management Agency International, where he was responsible for the global administration of the Defense Department’s most critical contracts performed outside of the United States.

So far, a total of 14 people have been charged in the case.

Categories: Local San Diego News