‘Fat Leonard’ nabbed in Venezuela after fleeing US Navy trial

‘Fat Leonard’ nabbed in Venezuela after fleeing US Navy trial

Photo: US Marshals Service


Leonard Glenn Francis fled the US earlier this month ahead of sentencing for his role in a massive bribery scandal.

By Aljazeera

Sep 22, 2022

A Malaysian defence contractor – popularly known as “Fat Leonard” – who orchestrated one of the largest bribery scandals in United States military history has been arrested in Venezuela.

An international manhunt was launched for Leonard Glenn Francis earlier this month after he fled the US ahead of his scheduled sentencing for his role in the massive bribery scandal involving dozens of US naval officials.

The hunt ended with Francis’s arrest by Venezuelan authorities on Tuesday morning at Caracas airport as he was about to board an aeroplane for another country, the US Marshals Service said on Wednesday.

Carlos Garate Rondon, the director general of Venezuela’s office of the international police agency Interpol, said in a statement posted on Instagram that Francis came to Venezuela from México and that he was headed onward to Russia.

He had also made a stop-over in Cuba, the Interpol chief said, adding that Francis would be handed over to judicial authorities in preparation for his extradition.

Francis’s arrest came on the eve of his scheduled sentencing in a federal court in California for a bribery scheme that lasted more than a decade and involved dozens of US Navy officers.

There was no immediate word on when he might be extradited to the US.

At the sentencing hearing on Thursday, US District Court Judge Janis Sammartino announced to the court that Francis was in custody in Venezuela and that a “no bail arrest warrant” had been issued.

“This turn of events raises several issues, and obviously will have an impact on other cases,” she said. A sentencing hearing for four Navy officers who went to trial in the case and were found guilty is set for October.

Prosecutors asked the court to note that Francis failed to appear at his sentencing hearing as ordered, while defence lawyer said they would be filing a motion severing their ties with Francis due to an “irreparable break down of the attorney-client relationship”.

Sammartino set a December 14 status hearing for Francis with the caveat that all parties could meet sooner depending on how events unfold. “I believe that’s all we can accomplish this morning,” the judge said.

Francis was confined to home arrest in San Diego when he cut off his GPS ankle bracelet and escaped on September 4. Ten US agencies have searched for Francis and a $40,000 reward was offered by the US Marshals Service and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).

Read More: Aljazeera – ‘Fat Leonard’ nabbed in Venezuela after fleeing US Navy trial

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