Prosecutors say there are more targets in the massive corruption scandal that involved senior Navy officials trading classified information for everything from luxury travel and prostitutes to knick-knacks and top-shelf alcohol.
Singapore businessman Leonard “Fat Leonard” Francis, 50, admitted guilt Thursday in the corruption conspiracy that one published report described to be “of epic proportions.”
“Our investigation is continuing and it's gathering momentum,“ said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Pletcher, who referred to "scores" of Navy personnel implicated by Francis in the plea agreement.
When asked if more senior Navy officials could be implicated in the case, Pletcher said federal prosecutors will follow the case to wherever the evidence leads.
Francis pleaded guilty to three charges including conspiracy to commit bribery, bribery and conspiracy to defraud the United States for enlisting senior Navy officials to redirect ships to ports he owned in several countries including Malaysia, Japan and Indonesia.
The charges carry a maximum exposure of 25 years in prison. Francis and GDMA were ordered to forfeit $35 million as a result of the guilty plea.
Court documents show that Francis and his company GDMA gave the co-conspirators – officials ranging from an NCIS investigator to a battleship commander – millions of dollars in gifts over 10 years beginning in 2004.
The gifts included luxury travel for the officials and family members, prostitutes, lavish meals, top-shelf alcohol, designer handbags, fountain pens, Kobe beef, Spanish suckling pigs and Cuban cigars, prosecutors said. Some officials agreed to turn over classified information for personal electronics, while others accepted gifts of model ships and ornamental swords, prosecutors said.
Navy officials deleted email accounts or used foreign-based email providers, Skype, Whats App and Blackberry chat to disguise the communication with GDMA and Francis, prosecutors said.
NBC 7 has been covering the investigation since it was first revealed in September 2013.
Guilty pleas have been entered by Navy Capt. Daniel Dusek, Navy Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez, Retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Edmond A. Aruffo, Navy Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug, senior Navy criminal investigator John Beliveau II and GDMA company manager Alex Wisidagama.
Captain-Select Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, one of the Navy officials accused in the conspiracy, was scheduled for a status hearing Friday.
He served as Deputy Director of Operations for the Commander of the 7th Fleet aboard USS Blue Ridge from 2011 to 2012. Prior to that he was the commanding officer on USS Mustin, a forward-deployed Destroyer class vessel in the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet, home-ported in Yokosuka, Japan.
Two other unidentified co-conspirators have yet to be charged by federal prosecutors according to court documents released Thursday.
One, a Lt. Commander who is currently assigned to NAVSUP in Ventura, California but who served as a Supply Officer on USS Blue Ridge from 2005 to 2007.
The second is a Singapore woman who has been employed as a U.S. Navy contract specialist for more than 20 years.
Attorneys and investigators with the Department of Justice, Criminal Division are helping in the prosecution and NCIS had worked as a key investigative agency in the case.