Former U.S. Naval Attaché and Military Advisor to the U.S. Ambassador in the Philippines Sentenced for Taking Bribes

Friday, June 16, 2017

A Retired U.S. Navy Captain was sentenced in federal court today to 41 months in prison for his role in a massive bribery and fraud scheme involving foreign defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis and his firm, Singapore-based, Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA).

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson Southern District of California, Director Dermot O’Reilly of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and Director Andrew Traver of the NCIS made the announcement.

In addition to the 41-month prison sentence, U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino ordered Michael Brooks, 59, of Fairfax Station, Virginia, to pay a $41,000 fine and $31,000 in restitution to the U.S. Navy.  Brooks pleaded guilty in November 2016 to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery.

Brooks, who served as the U.S. Naval Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines, from 2006 to 2008, has admitted accepting bribes of travel and entertainment expenses, hotel rooms and the services of prostitutes. In return, Brooks admitted that he used his power and influence to benefit GDMA and Francis, including by securing quarterly clearances for GDMA vessels, which allowed GDMA vessels to transit into and out of the Philippines under the diplomatic imprimatur of the U.S. Embassy. Neither GDMA nor any other defense contractor has ever been granted such unfettered clearances.

Brooks admitted that he also allowed Francis to ghostwrite official U.S. Navy documents and correspondence, which Brooks submitted as his own. For example, Brooks admitted allowing GDMA to complete its own contractor performance evaluations. A November 2007 evaluation, drafted by GDMA and submitted by Brooks, described the company’s performance as “phenomenal,” “unsurpassed,” “exceptional” and “world class.” Brooks also admitted providing Francis with sensitive, internal U.S. Navy information, including U.S. Navy ship schedules and billing information belonging to a GDMA competitor, at times using a private Yahoo! e-mail account to mask his illicit acts.

Twenty-one current and former Navy officials have been charged so far in the fraud and bribery investigation; 10 have pleaded guilty and 10 cases are pending. In addition, five GDMA executives and GDMA the corporation have pleaded guilty.

NCIS, DCIS and DCAA are conducting the ongoing investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher and Patrick Hovakimian of the Southern District of California and Assistant Chief Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.

Anyone with information relating to fraud, corruption or waste in government contracting should contact the NCIS anonymous tip line at www.ncis.navy.mil or the DOD Hotline at www.dodig.mil/hotline, or call (800) 424-9098.

Former Employee of Navy Contractor Pleads Guilty in International Navy Bribery Scandal

Alex Wisidagama, a citizen of Singapore formerly employed by Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States for his role in a scheme to overbill the U.S. Navy for ship husbanding services.   Wisidagama’s plea is the second in an expanding investigation into acts of alleged fraud and bribery committed by GDMA and several United States Navy officers and personnel.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California, Director Andrew Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Deputy Inspector General for Investigations James B. Burch of the U.S. Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jan M. Adler of the Southern District of California.   The plea is subject to acceptance by U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino.   Sentencing is set for June 13, 2014, before Judge Sammartino.
Wisidagama, who was arrested in San Diego, Calif., on Sept. 16, 2013, served as the general manager of global government contracts for GDMA, which was owned and operated by his cousin, Leonard Glenn Francis .   GDMA was a multi-national corporation with headquarters in Singapore and operating locations in other countries, including Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia, Philippines, Sri Lanka and the United States.   GDMA provided the U.S. Navy with hundreds of millions of dollars in husbanding services, which involve the coordinating, scheduling and procurement of items and services required by ships and submarines when they arrive at port.   These services included providing tugboats; paying port authority and customs fees; furnishing security and transportation; supplying provisions, fuel and water; and removing trash and collecting liquid waste.
In his plea agreement, Wisidagama admitted to conspiring to defraud the U.S. Navy in different ways.   Wisidagama and other GDMA employees generated bills charging the U.S. Navy for port tariffs that were far greater than the tariffs that GDMA actually paid.   In some cases, Wisidagama and others created fictitious port authorities for ports visited by U.S. Navy ships, and in other cases, Wisidagama and GDMA created fake invoices from legitimate port authorities purporting to bill the U.S. Navy at inflated tariff rates.   Wisidagama and GDMA also overbilled the U.S. Navy for fuel by creating fraudulent invoices which represented that GDMA acquired fuel at the same cost that it charged the U.S. Navy when in fact GDMA sold the fuel to the U.S. Navy for far more than it actually paid.   Wisidagama and GDMA also defrauded the U.S. Navy on the provision of incidental items by creating fake price quotes purportedly from other vendors to make it appear that the other vendors’ offering prices were greater than GDMA’s prices.
Wisidagama is the second defendant to plead guilty as part of this investigation.   On Dec. 17, 2013, former NCIS Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau Jr. pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery after admitting to providing Francis with sensitive law enforcement information in exchange for things of value such as cash, travel accommodations, lavish dinners, and prostitutes.   In addition to Beliveau and Wisidagama, Francis and U.S. Navy Commanders Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz and Jose Luis Sanchez have been charged as part of a bribery and fraud scheme designed to defraud the U.S. Navy.   The charges against Misiewicz, Sanchez and Francis are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The ongoing investigation is being conducted by NCIS, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Defense Contract Audit Agency.   Significant assistance was provided by the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, as well as the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Royal Thai Police and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau in Singapore.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Pletcher and Robert Huie of the Southern District of California, Director of Procurement Fraud Catherine Votaw and Trial Attorney Brian Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and Trial Attorney Wade Weems, on detail to the Fraud Section from the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction.