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US Navy Commander Pleads Guilty in ‘Fat Leonard' Bribery Case

A total of 27 defendants have been charged in connection to the investigation—18 of whom have pleaded guilty

A U.S. Navy commander pleaded guilty Tuesday in connection with an investigation of a multi-million dollar Navy bribery scheme involving Singapore-based defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis, also known as “Fat Leonard.”

Bobby Pitts, 48, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. by attempting to protect Francis, who owns Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA).

Pitts served as the officer in charge of the Navy’s Fleet Industrial Supply Command (FISC) in Singapore from August 2009 to May 2001. During that time, he learned the Naval Criminal Investigative Service was investigating whether Francis’ company was overbilling the Navy on ship husbanding contracts.

According to his plea agreement, Pitts had access to internal documents from the U.S. Navy regarding the investigation and shared that information with Francis.

In 2015, Francis pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud charges in a decade-long conspiracy involving a number of U.S. Navy officials.

NBC 7 has been following this investigation since September 2013.

"Fat Leonard" plead guilty in January 2015 to bribing senior Navy officials in exchange for specific U.S. Navy warship movements so his company could overbill the Pentagon.

A total of 27 defendants have been charged in connection with the investigation—18 of whom have pleaded guilty.

Last Friday, two former executives for GDMA, Neil Peterson and Linda Raja, were sentenced.

In June 2016, Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau became the first highest-ranking U.S. Navy officer to be charged in the case. He pleaded guilty to one felony charge in connection with the years-long corruption and fraud scheme.

He was sentenced in May of this year to three years of supervision after incarceration and was ordered to pay $150,000 in fines and restitution to the U.S. Navy.

Pitts is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 1.

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