PETALING JAYA: Leonard Glenn Francis who has been charged with bribing his way to US navy secrets with sex, luxury travel and multi-million dollar contracts, has a history of being on the wrong side of the law.
He was jailed for 36 months by the High Court in Penang on two counts of firearms possession in 1989. He was 24 then.
He was first charged in the Sessions Court with having the two .38 Special Smith & Wesson revolvers when he was just 21 in 1986.
However, after an impassioned appeal by his mother – she claimed that she had neglected him and that he had a philandering father – the Sessions Court bound him over.
The High Court, however, was not so generous when the prosecution appealed against the sentence. Justice Edgar Joseph Jr sentenced him to 18 months on each count and six strokes of the rotan as well.
The judge ruled that the court must mete out a jail sentence and whipping of no fewer than six strokes.
The now 49-year-old Francis, more famously known as Fat Leonard, was charged in San Diego yesterday along with two other US Navy commanders in a widening bribery scandal involving prostitutes, Lady Gaga shows, luxury travel and multi-million dollar government contracts.
And it’s all said to have started with Francis giving tickets to Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz for the Broadway production of the Lion King in Tokyo.
The others charged with him yesterday were Misiewicz, 46, Commander Jose Luis Sanchez, 41, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau II, 44.
Francis is legendary in military circles in Asia, retired Rear Admiral Terry McKnight, who does not know him personally, told AP.
“He’s a larger-than-life figure,” McKnight said. “You talk to any captain on any ship that has sailed in the Pacific and they will know exactly who he is,” he said.
Francis is known for extravagance. His bungalow in an upscale Singapore neighbourhood drew spectators yearly since 2007 to its lavish, outdoor Christmas decorations, which The Straits Times described as rivaling the island city-state’s main shopping street with replicas of snowmen, lighted towering trees, and Chinese and Japanese ornaments.
“It’s pretty big when you have one person who can dictate where ships are going to go and being influenced by a contractor,” added McKnight. “A lot of people are saying: how could this happen?”
The United States has since suspended its contracts with Francis and his company Glenn Defense Marina Asia.
Francis and his co-accused now face up to five years in prison if convicted of conspiracy to commit bribery.
Did you find this article insightful?