THE Malaysian mastermind of the worst public corruption scandal in US Navy history that escaped house arrest and was recently arrested increasingly took advantage of his confinement rules prior to absconding, according to The Washington Post.
Prior to Leonard Glenn Francis escaping his San Diego home on Sept 4, 2022 – where he was under house arrest for allegedly bribing US Navy officials for their influence and access to military intelligence – the Penang-born former businessman lived like a king.
The Post spoke to people who knew or worked for Francis (better known as “Fat Leonard” due to his girth) and looked at new records on his household arrangements during his years in home detention – and the revelations are shocking.
Leonard reportedly hired “servants” to meet his family’s every need and undermined the court’s security requirements aimed at keeping him from fleeing by stationing his personal security guards in windowless garages, with no night patrols and no visitor logs.
He also seemed able to anticipate when federal officers were headed to check on him, the interviews showed, and even allowed a video crew to film him days before he fled.
During his years on medical furlough, the Post said Francis stayed at three private homes, where his comforts and liberties grew.
Most recently he, his family and an English bulldog named Puteri lived in a five-bedroom, seven-bath home with a $7,000-a-month (RM32,049) rent in a gated community.
“So much food that we had 2 to 3 trash bags full daily”
Ricardo Buhain, a live-in, around-the-clock security guard at Francis’ first stay outside a cell (an apartment near his doctor’s office) said staff prepared so much food for Francis that uneaten meals filled two to three trash bags each day.
“He is kind of one of those Crazy Rich Asian kind of people,” said Buhain, referring to the popular novel and romantic comedy about a fabulously wealthy Singapore family.
“The servants really served him. They bathed all of his kids. They fed them 24-7.”
Anthony Galvan, who took over Buhain and worked a 12-hour daylight shift, said he never saw signs of overnight security.
He added that there was never anyone on duty when he arrived or left and that he spent much of his time opening Amazon boxes.
“It’s crazy how much stuff he (Francis) ordered,” he said. “He had packages coming from Amazon all day long. He had so many deliveries happening every single day.
“Sometimes it would be couches, all kinds of furniture, books. Every morning I would show back up at the garage and there would just be boxes in there.”
Similarly, Perla Nation, who handled administrative tasks for Francis during his final month of home confinement, said she never met the security guard who she said stayed in the property’s garage.
Nation, who worked in the home two or three days a week, added that she never saw a log of visitors to the house.
In the days before he absconded, Francis paid for U-Haul trucks to carry his family’s belongings out of his home and brought in a film crew to interview him, according to Nation.
However, she did not get an explanation from Francis about the film crew when she asked. “He said it was ‘just something that I’m doing’”, she said.
On Thursday (Sept 22), Francis was apprehended at Simon Bolivar International Airport in Venezuela – just under three weeks since he absconded.
He will remain in Venezuelan custody while the US Marshals Service and other federal authorities iron out details of his extradition back to the US.
However, the Post noted that whether Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro will allow his extradition is unknown; the US doesn’t recognize Maduro’s Government as legitimate and diplomatic relations were severed in 2019.
In 2015, Francis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe and swindle the US Navy out of at least US$35 mil in overcharges. His military contracting firm – Glenn Defence Maritime Asia (GDMA) – has also admitted wrongdoing.
According to news reports, Francis earned millions through GDMA, operating out of Singapore, providing food, fuel and security to the US Navy, its Seventh Fleet in particular.
Due to health issues (including kidney cancer), Francis was released on medical furlough and was on house arrest since at least 2018.
His sentencing was put off for years as he assisted US prosecutors in building cases against several others involved in the scheme. To date, four others have been convicted.
He was due to be charged on Thursday. Ironically, he was nabbed in Venezuela that day. – Sept 25, 2022
Main photo credit: Interpol Venezuela