In this handout image provided by U.S. Navy, USS Essex (LHD 2) gets underway off the coast of Sepangar, Malaysia - one of the locations considered a "Pearl Port" prosecutors allege.
A U.S. Navy commander, an NCIS Special agent and a Singapore businessman have been charged in what prosecutors call a worldwide bribery scheme involving hundreds of millions of dollars in defense contracts.
The case involves a multinational company that supplies Navy ships with food, water and waste services when they dock at countries in Asia.
Leonard Francis, CEO of the Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., was arrested in San Diego Monday and appeared in San Diego Federal Court Tuesday on charges in two separate bribery investigations.
Francis, 58, allegedly bribed U.S. Navy Commander Mike Misiewicz, 46, to redirect U.S. Navy vessels to ports his company would benefit from, according to court documents obtained by NBC 7 News. He then allegedly bribed NCIS Special Agent John Beliveau, 36, to gain confidential information in a fraud investigation, the documents say. All three have been charged with conspiring to commit bribery, which carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.
Misiewicz was commander of USS Mustin from June 2010 to January 2011 when he was transferred to serve on USS Blue Ridge as Deputy Operations Officer. In the latter position, Misiewicz had influence over operations for ships in the Seventh Fleet or any ship traveling through the area.
Prosecutors allege that Misiewicz diverted U.S. Navy ships to ports in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia instead of docking at ports in Singapore and the Philippines, which would make less money for Francis and his company, which provides tugboats, security, provisions, trash removal, refueling and other services for vessels.
Federal court documents state that between 2011 to 2012, Francis offered prostitutes and luxury travel for Misiewicz who he called “Little Brother” and his family members in exchange for diverting the ships, including the nuclear aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.
Court documents show the travel included several trips to Cambodia in 2011 and 2012, luxury hotel accommodations and airline tickets for family members to attend a wedding in Cambodia in December 2011.
In early 2012, Misiewicz is accused of sending a confidential list of schedules for various Navy vessels to Francis on three separate occasions using a private Gmail account.
After several months of negotiating, the USS John C. Stennis visited one of the ports Francis requested in September 2012 costing the U.S. Navy $2.7 million - a figure that's well above the $1.36 million average offered by two other aircraft carrier ports, prosecutors said.
Francis is also accused of providing travel, hotel and plane tickets as well as prostitutes to Beliveau who appeared in Virginia court to face charges Tuesday.
Prosecutors say the gifts were in exchange for documents from 2011 to 2013, regarding a fraud investigation into Glenn Defense Marine Asia.
One of the trips allegedly included a three-week tour through five countries in Asia in December 2012.
Emails between the escort and Francis show he paid for three days’ time and airfare according to court documents.
The complaint alleges that in return, Beliveau helped Francis craft a response to an NCIS inquiry and even searched an internal computer database several times for details on the investigation.
Once he was transferred to Quantico, Beliveau emailed Francis, “I will always be your friend but you will get nothing else until I get what you promised,” documents show.
The complaint shows Beliveau went on to write, “I can be your best friend or your worst enemy… I am not an amateur.”
Misiewicz, who was on the verge of being promoted to Captain, was arrested in Colorado.
Robert Huie, one of the Asst. U.S. Attorneys prosecuting the case says it's possible that Misiewicz and Beliveau will be back in San Diego for Federal court hearings on Sept. 30.