WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- A bribery investigation within the U.S. Navy has expanded, with two admirals in the intelligence service placed on leave, the Pentagon said.
Vice Adm. Ted Branch, director of Naval intelligence, and Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, director of intelligence operations, had their access to classified material suspended while investigators looked into possible connections to a bribery case involving services provided to warships visiting Asian ports.
A written statement issued by the Navy Friday did not provide details of the allegations, but spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said they dated back to before either officer had been promoted to admiral.
"There is no indication, nor do the allegations suggest, that in either case there was any breach of classified information," Kirby said, who added the admirals' security clearances were not revoked.
The bribery investigation has led to criminal charges against two Navy commanders, an agent of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and two foreign businessmen who worked on behalf of an Asian company that provided so-called husbandry services -- including trash removal, bunkers and provisions, for U.S. ships calling on Asian ports. The alleged scheme involved payoffs and favors in return for information on when certain ships would visit various ports.
Two of the five defendants made court appearances on the charges in San Diego federal court Friday, the Los Angeles Times said. A third was represented in court Friday by his lawyer. The Times said the other two defendants will appear at separate hearings.