Naval Officer Pleads Guilty in `Fat Leonard' Bribery Case

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A Navy officer pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal bribery and conspiracy charges for accepting lavish gifts in exchange for providing assistance to foreign defense contractor Leonard Glenn "Fat Leonard" Francis and his ship husbanding company.

Cmdr. Stephen Shedd, 48, who served as the Seventh Fleet South Asia Policy and Planning Officer and later as commanding officer of the USS Milius guided-missile destroyer, admitted in San Diego federal court to accepting bribes in exchange for assisting Francis' Singapore-based company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

According to prosecutors, Francis -- who has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing -- provided expensive meals, fancy hotel accommodations, prostitutes and other gifts to Navy members in exchange for help maintaining contracts with the Navy, information regarding ship schedules and influence over ship movements.

NCIS Director Omar Lopez said in a statement: "Cmdr. Shedd abused his high-level position in the Navy by illegally accepting lavish gifts from Mr. Francis in exchange for providing Mr. Francis classified ship schedules listing numerous ships, specific ports and dates for the visits far in advance of ship visits."

Shedd's role as South Asia Policy and Planning Officer meant he was "responsible for identifying ports that U.S. Navy ships would visit consistent with U.S. Navy engagement priorities," according to a 2017 indictment filed against him and several other officers.

Shedd admitted in his plea agreement to accept, among other things, watches for him and his wife, which the indictment identified as Ulysse Nardin watches worth $25,000, though Shedd has denied that the watches were of that brand. Shedd's plea agreement also states that he and eight other Seventh Fleet members accepted more than $250,000 in gifts from Francis.

More than two dozen other people have also pleaded guilty in the case, while several Seventh Fleet members are slated to go to trial, currently scheduled to begin next month in San Diego. Shedd is the third Seventh Fleet member to plead guilty thus far.

Shedd's sentencing was set for July after the trial is expected to be completed.

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