Manhunt on for bloke who ‘bribed US Navy officers with sex parties and booze’

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A larger-than-life character who bribed US Navy officers with sex parties and slap-up meals has vanished just weeks before he was due to be sentenced.

Leonard Glenn Francis, better known as "Fat Leonard" due to his 25-stone and 6ft 3in frame, received defence contracts and classified military information in return for the treats he laid on for Navy bigwigs.

But, with an expected 25 years in prison awaiting him for masterminding the Navy’s largest-ever corruption scandal, Francis has escaped house arrest, which he has been subject to since 2018.

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The Malaysian businessman cut off his ankle tag at the weekend and fled his San Diego home after removal vans had been spotted outside.

Francis' Singapore-based maritime ship servicing company Glenn Defense Marine Asia was awarded many lucrative contracts with the US Navy during the 2000s.

The main focus for his sprawling corruption network was the command ship USS Blue Ridge, which sailed around Asia and was the headquarters for the US Navy’s 7th Fleet.

Officers on board would enjoy luxury cocktail parties, sex workers, Michelin-star dining experiences and $1,000 (£870) bottles of champagne and cigars, all courtesy of Fat Leonard.

In return, along with the contract deals and classified information perks, Francis would also get officers to redirect military vessels to his ports where he would overcharge the Navy for fuel and other services, with prosecutors estimating that he defrauded the US military of more than $35 million.

One anonymous retired Navy officer close to Francis told theWashington Post in 2016: "He can hook you so fast that you don’t see it coming. At one time he had infiltrated the entire leadership line. The Soviets couldn’t have penetrated us better than Leonard Francis.”

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Following his arrest in 2013, Francis pleaded guilty to offering $500,000 in bribes to Navy officials.

He was not sentenced, but has been under house arrest for the last four years due to health issues, including kidney cancer.

The multi-million dollar property was guarded by a private security company to ensure he did not escape, but their fees were paid for by Francis himself, the San Diego Union-Tribune have reported.

Now in his late 50s, Francis lived with his three children but it is unclear whether they were staying with him at the time of his escape.

The Fat Leonard scandal has implicated more than 200 Navy officers, with dozens charged and four convicted of conspiracy, bribery and fraud in June.

Francis’ sentencing was due on September 22.

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