The military contractor known as "Fat Leonard," who pleaded guilty to orchestrating an international Navy bribery scheme and was under house arrest in San Diego, is now on the run after cutting off his GPS monitoring ankle bracelet over the weekend, federal authorities said.
Leonard Glenn Francis escaped from his home in the Torrey Highlands community of San Diego, Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Omar Castillo said.
Pretrial Services, which monitors Francis' house arrest, was notified his GPS tracker was cut on Sunday and called police, who found the home empty, Castillo said. The San Diego Regional Fugitive Task Force and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service then launched a high-profile search.
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Castillo said neighbors witnessed U-Haul moving trucks coming to and from Francis' home in the days before his escape.
Francis, who was the CEO of the Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) in Singapore, was arrested in San Diego in 2013 and pleaded guilty in 2015 to offering $500,000 in bribes to Navy officers between 2004 and 2013. In exchange, the officers passed him classified information and even went so far as redirecting military vessels to ports that were lucrative for his Singapore-based ship servicing company.
Prosecutors say Francis and his company overcharged the U.S. military by more than $35 million for its services.
The scandal took down eight people, including Navy officers, a senior NCIS investigator and Francis’ own cousin.
Francis has been on house arrest since at least 2018 and under the supervision of a federal agency that monitors defendants who are out of custody until sentencing. He was set to be sentenced at the end of the month and faced a maximum 25 years in prison and could be forced to forget $35 million.
Castillo said a wanted poster with a photo of Francis and more information about the investigation was expected to be released.
NBC 7 has reached out to Francis’ defense attorney, Devin Burstein, for comment but has not yet heard back. Burstein declined to comment to the San Diego Union-Tribune on Monday.