Cousin, Employee of "Fat Leonard" Pleads Guilty

NBC 7 has learned the cousin of the key defendant in the Navy bribery case entered a change of plea in federal court

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    Leonard Francis is the key defendant in the Navy bribery case based in San Diego.

    NBC 7 has learned a relative and employee of the Singapore businessman in the center of a large Navy bribery scandal pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday.

    Alex Wisidagama was a company manager who worked for his cousin, Leonard Francis. Wisidagama has now pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.

    Francis, known to Navy officials as "Fat Leonard," is the CEO of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., or GDMA.

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    Leonard Francis appeared in San Diego Federal Court on charges that he bribed a Navy Commander to secure multi-million dollar contracts for his Singapore-based company. NBC 7's Chris Chan reports. (Published Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013)

    Prosecutors allege the company overbilled the Navy by at least $20 million by bribing Navy officers.

    The officers would receive luxury vacations and prostitution services in exchange for confidential ship route information, prosecutors claim.

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    Two Admirals are now implicated in a multi-million Navy bribery scandal that has ties to San Diego. NBC 7's Mari Payton reports. (Published Friday, Nov. 8, 2013)

    In some instances, Francis would allegedly direct the movement of Navy vessels to Asian ports with lax oversight so his company could inflate costs and invent tariffs by using phony port authorities, according to federal prosecutors. 

    Wisidagama was arrested along with Navy Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez and Cmdr. Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz.

    Senior U.S. Navy criminal investigator John Beliveau II pleaded guilty to bribery charges in December.

    Beliveau tipped off an Asian defense contractor at the center of a multimillion-dollar fraud investigation and downloaded more than 100 confidential files in exchange for luxury trips and prostitution services, prosecutors said.

    GDMA has provided fuel, food and supplies for Navy ships for 25 years. The investigation started in 2009.