US Navy bribery case fugitive ‘Fat Leonard’ arrested in Venezuela before boarding a plane to Russia

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The fugitive Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis, who was allegedly behind one of the biggest bribery scandals to hit the US Navy, was arrested in Venezuela on Tuesday after successfully evading US authorities for two weeks.

According to the authorities, the Malaysian businessman under house arrest in San Diego, California, when he cut off his ankle monitor and crossed the Mexican border on Sept. 4.

From Mexico, Leonard traveled to Cuba and eventually made his way to Venezuela. Francis was detained at Simón Bolívar International Airport in the city of Maiquetía.

Interpol Venezuela director general Carlos Garate Rondon posted details of the arrest on Instagram, noting that Francis would board a plane to Russia before his arrest.

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Francis will be handed over to the country’s judicial authorities to start extradition proceedings. It is not immediately known on which date Francis may be extradited to the US

Experts noted Francis was captured just in time, as Russia may have turned down a US extradition request

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The extradition process with Venezuela may also face some challenges as President Biden’s administration does not officially recognize President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government.

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Although the US has an extradition agreement with Venezuela, there is currently no US embassy in the country.

Prior to his escape, Francis was due to be convicted last Wednesday by a federal court in California for the bribery case he pleaded guilty to in 2015.

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Francis was allowed to remain under house arrest while receiving medical attention and help the prosecution secure convictions of 33 of the 34 suspects, including more than two dozen naval officials.

During his tenure as President/CEO of Singapore-based defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), Francis would have been bribed a significant number of officers of the Navy’s 7th Fleet including cash, travel expenses, luxuries, and prostitutes.

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The bribes were allegedly given in exchange for classified information about the movements of US ships and submarines, confidential contracts and the eventual law enforcement investigations into GDMA.

Despite his non-appearance, Francis’ sentencing hearing was held Thursday to address the recent incident.

Prosecutors have indicated that if Francis is charged with failing to appear at his sentencing hearing, his possible 25-year sentence could be added to an additional five years. When he returns, he will need new lawyers.

Featured image via @carlosgarate14

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