San Diego

Rear Admiral Convicted in Bribery Scheme Fears Prison Without Therapy Dog

"I never thought I’d be going to jail," Rear Admiral Robert J. Gilbeau said.

Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau, 56, walked out of the federal court in downtown San Diego with his therapy dog by his side.

Gilbeau, who told NBC 7 he lives with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, was sentenced Wednesday to 18 months in federal prison.

“I feel horrible for what’s happened to my family and the Navy,” said Gilbeau, the first U.S. Navy admiral convicted of a federal offense while serving his country.

Gilbeau lied when investigators asked him if he had ever received any gifts from Leonard Glenn Francis, known by his nickname “Fat Leonard."

The Singapore businessman bribed senior Navy officers to access classified ship schedules for aircraft carriers in order to submit claims and invoices to the U.S. Navy. The Navy was bilked out of millions of dollars by Francis.

Gilbeau also pleaded guilty to destroying documents and computer files after learning that Francis and other Navy officials had been arrested in connection with the fraud and bribery charges.

“I wish the judge would have been a little more fair,” Gilbeau said to NBC 7, adding that he's concerned about going to prison without his therapy animal, named Bella.

“I do take responsibility for what I plead guilty to which is making false official statement," he said.

Gilbeau was sentenced to three years of supervision after incarceration and must pay $150,000 in fines and restitution to the U.S. Navy.

“He’s supported the country. He’s been to war many times. Now at the end of his retirement, he has to go to jail and pay a huge fine,” Jennine Gilbeau, Robert's wife, said.

Prosecutors in court said Gilbeau will receive more than $4 million in benefits and military pension.

“I never thought I’d be going to jail,” Gilbeau said.

He's scheduled to report to prison on June 23.

NBC 7 has been following this investigation since the first arrests were made public in September 2013.

Twenty current and former Navy officials have been charged so far in the fraud and bribery investigation; 10 have pleaded guilty and 10 cases are pending. In addition, five GDMA executives and GDMA the corporation have pleaded guilty.

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