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November 6, 2013

Third Navy officer arrested in bribery scheme

SAN DIEGO — Federal authorities arrested a third senior U.S. Navy official Wednesday in connection with a massive bribery scheme in Asia involving prostitutes and luxury travel.

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez was arrested in Tampa, Fla. His lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment.

In a criminal complaint, Sanchez is accused of accepting prostitutes, $100,000 cash and other bribes from Leonard Glenn Francis, the CEO of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., or GDMA.

Prosecutors say in exchange, Sanchez passed on classified U.S. Navy information to the Malaysian contractor, whose company has serviced Navy ships in the Pacific for 25 years and is accused of overbilling the Pentagon by millions.

Wednesday’s arrest marks the latest development in the case rocking the Navy. The accusations signal serious national security breaches and corruption and has set off high-level meetings at the Pentagon with the threat that more people, including those of higher ranks, could be swept up as the investigation continues. A hearing Nov. 8 could set a trial date.

“According to the allegations in this case, a number of officials were willing to sacrifice their integrity and millions of taxpayer dollars for personal gratification,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said after Wednesday’s arrest.

The two other senior officials arrested in recent weeks in the case are Navy Cmdr. Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz — who like Sanchez, is accused of giving Francis’ company confidential information about Navy ship routes — and a senior Navy investigator, John Beliveau II.

Prosecutors allege in a criminal complaint that Beliveau, 44, kept Francis abreast of the bribery probe and advised him on how to respond in exchange for such things as prostitution services.

Federal authorities said Wednesday they will seek to have Sanchez, 41, sent to San Diego to face the charges.

GDMA overcharged the Navy millions of dollars for fuel, food and other services it provided, and invented tariffs by using phony port authorities, prosecutors say.

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