Third U.S. Navy official charged with taking bribes from foreign firm

Nov. 6, 2013 at 10:05 PM   |   0 comments

TAMPA, Fla., Nov. 6 (UPI) -- A third U.S. Navy official has been charged with taking bribes -- cash, prostitutes and luxury travel -- from a foreign businessman, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The U.S. Justice Department said in a release Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez, 41, was arrested in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday and made his first court appearance Wednesday.

Sanchez is charged in a complaint with accepting $100,000 in cash, along with the services of prostitutes and travel perquisites, from a foreign defense contractor in exchange for classified and internal Navy information.

Charged along with him are Leonard Glenn Francis, 49, of Malaysia, the chief executive officer of Glenn Defense Marine Asia who was arrested Sept. 16 in San Diego, prosecutors said.

Two other senior Navy officials -- Cmdr. Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, 46, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau II, 44 -- were charged with bribery separately, the Justice Department said.

Glenn Defense executive Alex Wisidagama, 40, of Singapore, has been charged with playing a role in a related scheme to overbill the Navy for services provided in ports in Southeast Asia.

"As described in the corruption charges unsealed today, senior officials with the United States Navy abused their trusted positions as leaders in our armed forces by peddling favorable treatment -- and even classified government information -- for their personal benefit," acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General Mythili Raman said. "In turn, the GDMA executives who illicitly sought information and favors from those Navy officials boasted about their unlawful access to those officials and then traded on the influence that they illegally bought.

"Day by day, this massive Navy fraud and bribery investigation continues to widen, and as the charges announced today show, we will follow the evidence wherever it takes us."

U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said the investigation has turned up "a number of officials were willing to sacrifice their integrity and millions of taxpayer dollars for personal gratification."

Sanchez is accused of being paid the bribes in return for sensitive information he gave to Francis, and making recommendations to benefit Francis' company, a longtime government contractor based in Singapore that provides hundreds of millions of dollars of supply services for the U.S. Navy in at least a dozen countries throughout the Pacific.

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