As the Marines grapple with an uproar over photos of naked women jarheads being passed around the internet, new revelations are emerging in a sordid, long-running Navy scandal involving alleged bribes over an eight-year period that cost the service tens of millions of dollars.
Earlier this week, the Justice Department released an indictment of seven Navy officers – including an admiral and four captains – and a Marine colonel for giving military contractor Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis inside information, some of which was classified, in exchange for $25,000 watches, Cuban cigars, $2,000 bottles of liquor, stays in pricey hotels and champagne-fueled parties with hookers, according to The Washington Post.
In one incident at a Manila hotel, Navy revelers engaged in a multi-day party, guzzling all the Dom Pérignon available and costing Fat Leonard some $50,000, the Post said.
“In 2011,” the Post said, “Glenn Defense won deals valued at $200 million to service U.S. vessels at ports stretching from the Russian Far East to Australia.” Fat Leonard has admitted that his Singapore-based company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, defrauded the Navy of more than $35 million, according to the Justice Department.
Besides Fat Leonard -- a 6’3”, 350-lb. native of Malaysia who is awaiting sentencing and said to be cooperating with investigators -- multiple Navy officers and civilian employees have admitted to being part of the far-flung corruption network.
Among them is a Navy commander, 28-year veteran Michael Vannak Khiem Misiewicz, who was sentenced to six years in federal prison last April for giving Glenn Defense confidential information about ballistic missile defenses and schedules for the U.S. 7th Fleet, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau, the highest-ranking active officer charged, pleaded guilty to lying to investigators, and 30 other admirals are said to be under investigation.
But Fat Leonard’s tentacles didn’t just extend to the officer corps; he also compromised at least one investigator looking into the corruption scandal, which has been called the largest case of fraud in U.S. Navy history. Last October, an officer of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service was sentenced to 12 years in prison for helping to keep Fat Leonard one step ahead of the law by supplying him with more than 80 reports on his criminal activities.
The highest-ranking officer charged this week is retired Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, a former director of naval intelligence.
As new developments emerge in the Fat Leonard scandal, the Marines are confronting a different kind of controversy: The sharing of explicit photos of women Marines on a Facebook page hosted by a 30,000-member group called Marines United. The group page has been taken down, but the photos reportedly exist on a different Facebook page.
On Tuesday, Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller underwent a grilling on Capitol Hill over a culture of sexual harassment in the corps. Facing sharp questioning by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Neller said: “I know you've heard it before, but we are going to have to change how we see ourselves and how we treat each other. That's a lame answer, but ma'am, that's the best I can tell you right now. We've got to change, and that's on me."