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Marshals offer $40K reward for ‘Fat Leonard’ with international search underway

U.S. Marshals (U.S. Air Force/Released)

Federal authorities offered a $40,000 reward Friday for information leading to the arrest of Leonard Glenn Francis, the military contractor at the center of a massive Navy corruption scandal who cut off his GPS monitor and fled house arrest Sunday.

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The whereabouts of the man known as “Fat Leonard” were unknown as of Friday, Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Omar Castillo said in a news release.

Castillo told the Union-Tribune on Thursday that Francis had “gone international,” fleeing from the U.S. “right away” after cutting off the GPS tracker from his ankle. Castillo would not say how or where Francis left the U.S.

Francis is a Malaysian national who ran his military contracting firm, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, from Singapore. His company serviced visiting Navy ships in ports he controlled across Southeast Asia, and for years he bribed Navy officers with ritzy parties, the services of prostitutes and lavish gifts, allowing him to earn millions of dollars from Navy contracts.

Federal authorities arrested him in 2013 in a San Diego hotel room as part of a sting operation. He pleaded guilty in 2015, admitting to the massive bribery conspiracy and to swindling the Navy out of at least $35 million in overcharges. He also began working with prosecutors as a cooperating witness.

After several bouts with health issues, including kidney cancer, Francis was released on medical furlough and had been on house arrest since at least 2018. He had been under the supervision of Pretrial Services, a federal agency that monitors defendants who are out of custody until sentencing.

According to a new timeline provided by Castillo, Pretrial Services received an alert about 7:30 a.m. Sunday that Francis’ GPS was being tampered with. After Pretrial Services personnel and Francis’ defense attorneys tried unsuccessfully to contact him, the lawyers called San Diego police for a welfare check. Around 2:45 p.m., San Diego officers concluded Francis did not appear to be home.

Pretrial Services contacted the Marshals Service around 3:30 p.m., and 30 minutes later members of the San Diego Regional Fugitive Task Force went into the home through an unlocked door. Francis was gone, leaving behind his shorn GPS monitor.

The Marshals Service and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are each offering $20,000 rewards for information that directly assists in apprehending Francis. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is urged to call the Marshals Service at (877) 926-8332. Anonymous tips can also be submitted online or the through the “USMS Tips” mobile app.


© 2022 The San Diego Union-Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.