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Former admiral gets 18 months in prison for lying

by JULIE WATSON Associated Press on May 18, 2017 10:24 AM

SAN DIEGO — The first U.S. Navy admiral convicted of a federal crime while on active duty was sentenced Wednesday to 18 months in prison for lying to investigators about a Malaysian defense contractor at the center of a massive corruption scandal.

Robert Gilbeau was sentenced Wednesday in San Diego after pleading guilty to one count of making false statements.

“This is the first time our nation will incarcerate a Navy admiral for a federal crime committed during the course of his official duty, and it is truly a somber day,” Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson said in a statement. “When tempted by parties and prostitutes, one of our most respected leaders chose karaoke over character, and cover-up over confession, and in doing so he forever tarnished the reputation of a revered institution.”

Gilbeau wrote in a letter to the judge that he was “devastated” by the situation in which he finds himself.

“I have no one to blame but myself,” he wrote.

He added that the media has “painted me to be corrupt and despicable” but he is “still proud” of his service.

Gilbeau was convicted in June after admitting that he lied when he told federal agents that he had never received any gifts from Leonard Glenn Francis.

The Navy allowed him to retire in October but reduced his rank from rear admiral to captain.

Nicknamed “Fat Leonard” because of his wide girth, Francis has admitted to bribing Navy officials with more than $500,000 in cash, prostitutes, and other gifts in exchange for classified information to help his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia. He is awaiting sentencing.

Francis and his company that supplies food and fuel to ships overbilled the Navy by more than $34 million, prosecutors said.

Gilbeau first met Francis in 1997 during a port visit to Bali, Indonesia, where Francis wooed Gilbeau and another U.S. Navy officer with hotel rooms, dinners and the services of prostitutes, according to investigators.

For years, Francis footed the bill for Gilbeau’s late-night partying at nightclubs and karaoke bars, fine dining, luxury hotels and paid sex in Asian countries.

In exchange, Gilbeau signed off on Francis’ company invoices that grossly overbilled the Navy, prosecutors said.

In one instance, Gilbeau signed an invoice for the USS Nimitz that was the highest amount the Navy ever paid in the ship’s history for wastewater removal. Prosecutors said evidence suggests the company kicked back $40,000 in cash to Gilbeau.

Gilbeau has denied taking cash.

U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino said Gilbeau carried out “a systematic destruction of records,” after Francis was arrested in 2013 to conceal his involvement.

“You violated the law,” she said. “You dishonored your shipmates, the Navy and the United States of America.”

Twenty current and former Navy officials have been charged so far. Ten have pleaded guilty.

Five Glenn Defense Marine Asia executives and the corporation have also pleaded guilty.

AP writer Elliot Spagat contributed to this report.

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