Closing Arguments Begin in Federal Bribery Trail of 5 High-Ranking Navy Officers Tied to ‘Fat Leonard'

The Navy officers are accused of accepting lavish gifts in exchange for assisting foreign defense contractor "Fat Leonard" Francis and his ship servicing company.

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Closing arguments began Thursday in the federal bribery trial of five high-ranking Navy officers.

They’re accused of accepting lavish gifts in exchange for assisting foreign defense contractor "Fat Leonard" Francis and his ship servicing company.

It took the government about four hours to complete its closing argument Thursday.

A multi-million dollar international bribery scheme, dating back 15 years, played out in federal court Wednesday. NBC 7's Dana Griffin reports.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Pletcher painted the defendants as men who pledged their allegiance to the Navy and then “sold that allegiance and abused their power and authority to benefit a corrupt defense contractor named Leonard Francis.”

The officers are former members of the Navy's Seventh Fleet.

Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless, captains David Newland, James Dolan and David Lausman, and Commander Mario Herrera have all maintained their innocence.

Leonard “Fat Leonard” Francis has admitted to offering $500,000 in bribes to Navy officers from 2006 to 2013.

In exchange, investigators said the officers passed Leonard classified information and went as far as redirecting military vessels to ports that were lucrative for Leonard’s Singapore-based ship husbanding company, GDMA.

A decade long Navy investigation is soon coming to an end, but more continues to be revealed about the Leonard Francis scheme involving bribing Navy officials with prostitutes, alcohol and expensive trips to allow contractors to dock Navy ships throughout the western Pacific. NBC 7's Melissa Adan reports.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says GDMA overbilled the Navy by more than $35 million.

Twenty-nine people, mostly Navy officials, have already pleaded guilty to helping Francis in exchange for extravagant outings in South Asia with prostitutes, hotels and meals with tabs totaling tens of thousands of dollars.

The 12 jurors and 4 alternates have been taking diligent notes for the past 13 weeks.

Francis, the prosecution’s star witness, was on the list to testify but was never called. Defense lawyers have been trying to prevent him from testifying after he gave his version of events in a podcast last year.

Francis is scheduled to be sentenced in July.

An attorney representing Lausman asked the judge for a mistrial because the prosecution said there was no evidence “presented” that he engaged in prostitution. The defense said that insinuated that there was evidence, but it was not allowed to be presented to the jury.

The judge denied that motion.

Court resumes Monday morning. The jury could start deliberations as early as Tuesday.

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