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Paying the Price: The Hidden Cost of the ‘Fat Leonard’ Investigation

Undated photo of Leonard Francis

This post has been updated to note that USNI News reached out to the Department of Justice for comment prior to publication of this story. Additionally, an attorney representing Leonard Francis provided comment following publication of an earlier version of this story.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The investigation into the web of corruption spun by contractor Leonard Francis has wreaked havoc on the Navy’s ability to fill senior leadership roles, unintentionally stalled hundreds of officers’ careers and thinned out the service’s flag ranks, USNI News has learned.

The six-year-long Department of Justice-led probe into the “Fat Leonard” scandal has resulted in 33 federal indictments, 22 guilty pleas and Francis admitting to authorities that his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, had overbilled the Navy by $35 million to support port visits by U.S. warships.

But to get to that total, hundreds of personnel that served in the Pacific who had not committed any crimes had to be investigated and then cleared. That process placed a countless number of officers on hold with no information on their status and no timeline for being freed from suspicion – a process that sometimes took years – former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus told USNI News in an interview last year.

“If Leonard Francis mentioned somebody’s name, or it seemed to us that if somebody had served in a senior position in the Pacific during this time, which covered a lot of folks, they were caught up in this until their name could be pulled out,” Mabus said. “It took in a huge percentage of flag officers, and it really hamstrung the Navy in terms of promotions, in terms of positions.”

The sheer volume of Navy personnel exposed to Francis is indicative of how ubiquitous GDMA’s reach was in the Western Pacific from the late 1990s to his 2013 arrest. The Japan-based U.S. 7th Fleet relied heavily on GDMA to carve out places where U.S. warships could make port calls as Washington wrestled with Beijing for influence in the South China Sea, several officers who served in 7th Fleet have told USNI News.

China was at the time seen as the U.S. Navy’s greatest adversary, and therefore the best and brightest officers in the service cycled through deployments in 7th Fleet. Many of those same officers’ promotions were later put on hold while the investigation was ongoing, with the effects rippling up to the highest levels of the service.

While the total number of Navy personnel DoJ has under investigation is unknown, as of early 2018 Justice had passed to the Navy almost 450 names that they elected not to prosecute. Of those, the Navy elected to take a handful to court-martial, issue seven letters of censure from the Secretary of the Navy, and issue about 40 other administrative actions. As of early 2018, there were about 170 names still pending before the CDA.

“It’s really been pretty devastating to the upper ranks of the Navy,” Mabus told USNI News. “There were bad people here. You gotta catch them. You got to make sure they’re punished. But there were a lot of people that didn’t do anything that got caught up in this.”

Several senior officials over the last several months have told USNI News that the damage done to Navy leadership was worse than the aftermath of the 1991 Tailhook convention scandal.

“I think it is worse. I think it’s very secretive,” a retired flag officer told USNI News. “At least with Tailhook, people knew that if they went to Tailhook they were being looked at. Right now, as far as anyone knows, if you ever went west of Hawaii, you’re being looked at. As far as anyone knows, but no one really knows.”

Last year, a senior U.S. Pacific Command staffer told a room of Australians, when asked about the ongoing case, “China could never have dreamt up a way to do this much damage to the U.S. Navy’s Pacific leadership.”

A spokesperson from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California declined to comment on the investigation when reached by USNI News earlier this month.

‘Nothing is too good for the Fleet’

USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) anchored in Kota Kinabalu for a scheduled port visit in 2012. US Navy Photo

Beyond the well-documented dinners and wild parties, a major reason Francis was able to maintain relationships in the Western Pacific for so long was his near monopoly for ship husbanding in the region.

Husbanding agents, like Francis, coordinated bringing the in-port ship fuel, water and food; removed sewage; and other miscellaneous logistical duties that included everything from setting up barriers for force protection to providing morale, welfare and recreation shuttles for sailors.

His rise to prominence paralleled the maritime competition between the U.S. and China in the vicinity of the South China Sea in the early 2000s. The U.S. Pacific Fleet was on a campaign to put ships into places that they had never visited before and had to negotiate port visits to meet U.S. Navy standards for services.

Those standards became much more complex following the 2000 suicide boat attack on USS Cole (DDG-67) in Yemen that killed 17 sailors. Francis was able to provide services to meet the tougher standards in places other husbanding contractors couldn’t, several officers who served in 7th Fleet told USNI News.

Leonard’s catchphrase at GDMA was, “nothing is too good for the Fleet,” former Western Pacific Navy contracting official Bruno Wengrowski told USNI News in an interview.

For former commanders who relied on Francis to keep their ships going, he made himself indispensable to 7th Fleet operators.

From 2007 to 2009, retired Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery led the Japan-based Destroyer Squadron 15 that operated almost exclusively in 7th Fleet. Out of 100 or so port visits with his destroyers in that period, GDMA provided husbanding support for about three-quarters of those visits, he said.

“[Francis] was an aggressive husbanding agent who supported our ships, made sure they got what they wanted. Clearly with a profit motive. But as an operator, it was nice to have someone pushing hard to get things,” Montgomery told USNI News in a mid-December interview in Washington.
“He melded out of the role of a contractor into that of a support element. In other words, he’s someone you’re working with,” Montgomery said. “Since I don’t pay his bills and I derive his services with the fuel and the sewage, all these kinds of things. He just kind of melded in there.”

In addition to controlling an abundance of ports, GDMA had a knack for solving tough problems for the Navy that made him essential to the service in the Pacific.

For example, in 2007 carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) was set to undertake a complex port visit to Chennai, India, as part of a broader U.S. effort to tighten ties with New Delhi as China continued to expand its influence in the Indian Ocean.

“No other husbanding agent would sign up to get all the facilities, all the services present, to the standard required by the Navy in India, and he did it,” Montgomery said.

In another poke at China, in 2012 Francis was able to meet Navy standards for a carrier to pay a call to the Malaysian port of Kota Kinabalu on the edge of the South China Sea. GDMA had a profit motive to steer the 7th Fleet staff to the port it controlled to overbill the Navy for services. But Francis was also savvy enough to know that the Navy would see the visit by USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) at the edge of China’s territorial claims as a strategic win that benefited U.S. foreign policy in the region.

“He was a crook, but he was our crook,” Cmdr. Mike Misiewicz, former 7th Fleet deputy of fleet operations and now convicted felon for his role in the scandal, told Defense News in 2016.

In a statement provided to USNI News on Friday following the initial publication of this story, Francis’ attorney, Devin Burstein, said the investigation has highlighted a “dichotomy” in the relationship between 7th Fleet and GDMA.

“On the one hand, the partnership between the Navy and Mr. Francis was incredibly successful. The work he did as a husbanding agent was unparalleled. For a long time, he was a great asset for our military,” he said on Friday. “On the other hand, there was a culture of corruption in the Navy, of looking the other way. And GDMA took advantage of that to increase its bottom line. This scandal has hopefully served as a mirror for the Navy leadership to take a good, honest look at itself.”

The Scope

U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) pulls into Dry Dock 6 at Naval Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF JRMC) Yokosuka on June 1, 2016. US Navy photo.

The fallout from the Fat Leonard investigation has been so devastating to the Navy, in part, because the scope of those under suspicion is so broad, Bryan Clark, a naval analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and former aide to retired former 7th Fleet commander and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, told USNI News in a January interview.

“The duration of time that the investigation covered meant that there are a lot of people that have rotated through that theater that could potentially have done something wrong. Especially the way that Francis managed his business, it meant that he tried to essentially compromise every commander, executive officer, every command triad almost that came through there,” Clark said. “He tried to compromise them in a way to make them beholden to him so that he could use them in the future, which meant you had to pretty much look at every one of those guys that’s gone through there in the course of 15 years.”

Combined with the staff of 7th Fleet and other Pacific Fleet jobs ashore, the number of Navy personnel that had business with Francis – or at least attended an event he sponsored – numbered in the hundreds.

“Because you’re talking about more than a decade, two decades almost, that’s a lot of people that you got to now put under the microscope to ensure that they were not involved in any of the wrongdoing,” Clark said.

As of the start of 2018, about 450 cases were forwarded from DoJ to a consolidated disposition authority (CDA) appointed by the Navy in 2014 to determine if individuals warranted additional punishment from the service. Since 2014 there have been three different CDAs: Adm. John Richardson when he was director of naval reactors until he became CNO in 2015; former U.S. Fleet Forces Command commander Adm. Phil Davidson, from 2015 until he took command of Indo-Pacific Command in 2018; and current Fleet Forces commander Adm. Christopher Grady.

From those cases, the Navy has elected to court-martial a handful of active sailors, issue an unknown number of non-judicial punishments for others and mete out other administrative actions like non-punitive letters of caution (NPLOC) and censures for those who have left the service. As of early 2018, the Navy elected to take administrative action for about 40 of the names handed over from DoJ, USNI News has learned.

But aside from those who faced punishment from the Navy, many of the best officers in the Navy were neither punished nor cleared in a timely manner, meaning they were unable to advance to more senior leadership positions in the service. Under federal law, there’s a limit to how long an officer can serve before they’re either promoted or moved out of the service. Timing is key to the official and unofficial grooming for flag ranks, and the promotion holds for officers named in the investigation began to breakdown the process.

“A lot of your hot runners were coming out of that theater, which meant a lot of your hot runners that were in line for these milestones were the very people that had been potentially implicated in this investigation,” Clark said.
“They caught up the cream of the crop, if you will. The Navy is now caught up in this web that now you got to vet them all because you can’t have them move onto that next milestone.”

Several officials familiar with the investigation said that subjects often didn’t know they were under suspicion until they tried to move into new jobs or promote.

“It is really debilitating to those who are just sitting there on tenterhooks,” a retired flag officer who served in the Western Pacific told USNI News last year. “The classic example are always guys who got out and flag officers [looking to promote]. Never heard a boo other than: ‘Hey we can’t nominate you for another job.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because you haven’t cleared.’ ‘Cleared what?’”

Officers who were waiting for their next promotion could be on hold for years without knowing the status of their investigation. Rather than cope with the anxiety of not knowing their future in the service, many opted to retire instead of serve.

Adding another roadblock, until recently the Navy had difficulty complying with U.S. Senate rules on disclosing potentially prejudicial information for a nominee for a three-star position due to Department of Justice restrictions.

“If there’s been an [inspector general investigation] on somebody, any kind of administrative action, that’s already documented. And so you’d lay that forward. But the sticking point here is, just because somebody’s name came up in a conversation, may that be a deposition, or an interview, or in Mr. Francis’ email, or anything else. These names have tended to build up,” a retired senior Navy officer told USNI News in an interview.
“There’s no accusation for almost all of them. They may not even be a person of interest, per se. Certainly not a criminal, because [DoJ] would front-load all that and then it becomes more of a perhaps potential ethical, or administrative, or regulations, or rules-violation.”
Initially, even the scope of those who might be implicated was unknown to senior leaders in the Navy because they themselves hadn’t been cleared of impropriety in the investigation.

“A lot of the guys that were in charge were potentially involved either as witnesses or as potential wrongdoers,” Clark said. “So they were all kept out of the loop necessarily, which means you have to manage the Navy’s personnel processes knowing that this is going on, but not knowing the specifics as to what’s happening next.”

Ethics

Undated photo of Leonard Francis

Much of the collateral damage to the service has come from how to handle the gray area between criminal behavior and a violation of Navy rules and procedures.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told a collection of retired flag officers in 2017 that the service was struggling with handling the individuals handed over from the DoJ and determining what level of punishment the Navy should assign for lapses that are the ethical equivalent of “jaywalking.”

Defining wrongdoing for those caught up in the case has been met on a sliding scale based on circumstance and seniority, Clark told USNI.

“These ethics rules are clear, regulations are clear [but] we don’t always enforce them all as aggressively depending on the situation,” he said. “So people that violate the ethics rules, by the letter of the law, often are not punished or they get a very minor sort of reprimand.”

However, Clark said, there was still a question if ethical infractions were weighed differently because of their connection to the GDMA case.

While junior officers who ran afoul ethical hurdles were given minimal punishment, according to a report in the San Diego Union-Tribune, the ethical lapses of senior leaders were dealt with differently.

USNI News is familiar with the cases of several former Navy officials who were, as part of the CDA process, given a career-ending non-punitive letter of caution in their official record for violations like paying too little for a GDMA-sponsored dinner or accepting unsolicited gifts from Leonard.

A NPLOC would not hinder the career of a more junior sailor, but circumstances are different for a more senior officer, USNI News understands. As senior captains move to rear admiral and one- and two-stars look to promote, any kind of detrimental mark on their reputation wouldn’t have been worth the risk to the service, several former senior officers have told USNI News.

What added to the frustration for many caught in the ethical gray areas is that violations occurred when they were far more junior officers.

Adm. Harry Harris, Commander U.S. Pacific Command, presents Rear Adm. Mark C. Montgomery, U.S. Pacific Command Director of Operations, the Defense Distinguished Service Medal aboard the battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) Memorial during a retirement ceremony on Aug. 18, 2017. Montgomery is retiring after 32 years of naval service. US Navy photo

“The Navy handles these [cases] inconsistently and you end up with these situations where you’re unclear on how you handle these cases of minor infractions,” Clark said. “You’ve got senior people who committed minor infractions as more junior [officers].”

He said, if those suspected of ethical violations had been punished as a more junior officer when the infraction first occurred, a non-punitive letter in their record wouldn’t have been stopped a career. But due to the length of the investigation, a letter from an infraction from years ago would be enough to end a career in the service for a more senior leader.

In addition, the subjects of the NPLOCs and the public Secretary of the Navy Letters of Censure are limited in how they can dispute any allegations.

In November, Montgomery was issued a letter of censure from Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer – based on the recommendation of Grady, the current CDA – which accuses him of the crimes of graft and false official statements, charges that he categorically denies but can’t defend or appeal.

“This was not an inspector general report. It was not a UCMJ report. It did not have the appropriate, from the evidence shown to me and the work product shown to me, it did not have the findings, the facts, findings, recommendations, and then the opportunity for me to review the evidence against me and to provide my rebuttal at that time as you would in a normal [inspector general] or UCMJ process,” Montgomery said.

No End In Sight

USS Benfold (DD 65) is at anchor off Koror, Republic of Palau in 2012. US Navy Photo

Beyond the Navy, the overall federal investigation shows no signs of stopping. In the beginning of 2018, Richardson told a group of reporters that he hoped the investigation would end by the close of 2018. However, that was not the case and there are no clear indications of the probe wrapping up soon.

Former SECNAV Mabus said he believes the Navy successfully handled the situation on its own, and he places the bulk of the blame on the DoJ for taking too long.

“They’ve had time to do this. They’ve had time to figure out criminal involvement. I was told that I couldn’t [ask to accelerate the clearances] because it would be seen as interfering with a prosecution, or undermining a prosecution,” Mabus told USNI News. “Two different secretaries of defense offered to call the Attorney General to see if we could speed it, and they were told by their lawyers, by the DoD lawyers, ‘You can’t do that. You’ve got to maintain a hands-off attitude.’ And so while Navy was, I think, very aggressive in rooting this out, very aggressive in fixing the system that allowed it to happen, Navy has just been hamstrung by the unwillingness of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to clear cases.”

However, even if the investigation ended tomorrow, the damage the probe has done to potential leaders that were groomed in the Pacific to serve at the highest levels has already been done, a former senior naval officer told USNI News.

“We started sending a lot of our best people out there – the commodores, air wing commanders, one-stars – and now look at what we’ve got,” the officer told USNI News.
“Now, it’s the kiss of death.”

  • Ed L

    Guess it’s to late to toss Fat Leonard off the Fantail at sea. Yes I favor Rocks & Shoals punishment

    • juliet7bravo

      Why blame Fat Leonard? Put the blame where it belongs, on the USN and corrupt, venal officers and enlisted willing to be bought off with hookers and flashy junk. I expect a contractor to be greasy and dangle freebies, I don’t expect US Naval officers to line up to feed from his trough. We’d expect better behavior from an E-1. Instead, we got institutionalized graft from officers.

  • Tony Kochanski

    Couple points. As the retired flag lamented the scope encompasses everyone who has “ever sailed West of Hawaii,” I disagree. It encompasses those who did things to bring shame and discredit to the Navy and this Nation. If you didnt do shady stuff, you have nothing to worry about.

    Likewise, those who think its unfair that senior officers were treated more harshly than junior officers need their heads examined. Why is it unreasonable to expect more from those who are entrusted with more? JOs in many of these cases are just following the DH or CO assuming that because they are senior they won’t lead them astray.

    And to say this has been worse than Tailhook!? In both of these cases, the system has promoted these people into their positions. When is it that we revaluate the system!?

    • D.R.

      Spot on!

      • dsharil

        Good post

    • old guy

      Excellent post. Senior officers should noy omly be treated AS severely as the lower ranks, but should be PUBLICLY stripped of rank and pay (or retirement). The “Cocktail Party” promotions must cease.

      • tom dolan

        Actually I think senior officers should be treated MORE severely for being corrupt. Leadership is a responsibility not an opportunity to game the system for personal benefits. Senior officers are examples to their juniors…..good and bad.

  • Mooseflstc

    I’m beginning to wonder if the investigation cost more than the over-billing. The article does point out that GDMA was the only company that could provide services and meet the requirements for some of the port visits.

    • roner

      It probably is costing more, if one wants to try to tally up the costs, but the investigators would be getting paid no matter what they were looking at.

      And why does the cost of an investigation figure into whether it should be done? That’s the standard scoundrel’s retort.

    • Duane

      The amount of the overbilling is irrelevent – it is the corruption of the entire US Navy command structure that is the real damage to not only the Navy, but to the national security of the United States of America. As the Visa commercials say, “priceless”.

  • roner

    Is fat leonard even in prison as a result of this? If he was, is he already out?

    • Duane

      He was arrested years ago and remains in prison. His trial has been delayed because DOJ uses him to finger the guys he corrupted, so as to reel in all the bad guys. Because the corruption extended so far and wide and deep, it is taking literally years to work through the investigation backlog.

  • JohnByron

    “The investigation into the web of corruption spun by contractor Leonard Francis has wreaked havoc on the Navy’s ability to fill senior leadership roles”

    Sam LaGrone is a bright star at the Institute, but he and his editor should acknowledge that this story has a terrible lede that is false on its face. The investigation is not the source of these personnel woes. but rather an output of the true cause, the misfeasance and malfeasance of the Navy people who perpetrated this fraud on the United States.

    • John, point taken. If no one broke the law, there wouldn’t be anything to say. Our point was the process after the fact has had major ramifications on how the Navy could go about filling these senior positions. The major hang up was the pace of the DoJ probe, according to our reporting, hence “investigation.” If that’s an clunky way to express the idea, then that’s on me.

      • JohnByron

        Thanks Sam and thanks for the really fine work you do at the Institute. Good journalism.

        I suspect the investigation was significantly tangled and delayed partially because it ensnared some NIS folks up front. That required an extra layer of care to ensure a complete investigation.

        Would also say that underneath all this is a pretty hard kick in the shins for the common Navy attitude that somehow Navy ethics are above those of civil society and that being a naval officer is proof that a person is beyond reproach. Two uses of the letter H. Hubris. And humility. Too much of the former and too little of the latter.

        Finally, the cultural problem of a different set of ethics and morals on the other side of the international date line (and deployed in the Atlantic, Med, and points east). “Single up,”, wedding ring into the safe, party hardy. I even served once with a line officer who was found to have two families, one in CONUS and one in Yokosuka. There needs be an acknowledgement that what it means to be a person of honor is not a function of longitude.

      • Duane

        I think you do a disservice to your readers when you fail to mention in your post that the reason the DOJ is even involved at all is that the Navy proved incapable of investigating its own corruption. And that by the time the DOJ got involved, because the Navy refused to do anything at all, the scope of the resulting corruption was vastly wider than if the Navy had actually policed itself beginning many years ago.,

        Naval complaining about the DOJ investigation taking so long now is like the big Wall Street investment banks complaining after they cratered in 2008 that the Federal government didn’t stop them from committing financial suicide.

      • old guy

        I thought that this report of yours was spot on. I have a great faith in reporters and editors, which is why I appear hostile, at times. BUT, you have written a post that epitomizes good journalism; concise, fair, accurate, non emotional and unbiased. BZ

      • Tony Kochanski

        Sam, your post here is great, and greatly appreciated. I understand your intent, but your story was wholeheartedly placed in the wrong lane for me, and the closing reenforces why I left active duty. Certainly, this “black swan” did not fit in with leadership’s plan to “groom” what they had already predetermined were “the best.” It certainly gives the impression that this game is a lot more rigged beyond just “sustained superior performance.”

        If the senior officer that you referenced at the end would have said “Even if the investigation closed tomorrow the damage has already been done to the Navy by the officers the nation entrusted with the highest responsibilities” that certainly sends a message of at least accepting the facts and reality of the situation. Instead, I feel like the former SecNav and your other source still seem to want to brush this whole thing off as “no big deal.” The tone is it’s the investigation that is hurting the Navy, not the people who broke the law, because they were “on track.” Is it unfortunate that some folks got their brothers and sisters who did nothing caught up in this mess? Sure, but that’s not the DOJ’s fault.

        To me your story read like a sob story that wants me to feel bad for people who did bad things and got caught. I guess I don’t feel bad about the DOJ doing their job and not taking shortcuts for the senior Navy officers and officials to save face. Your story should really be more about how a lot of people at the highest levels normalized deviance to uphold the standards so far that it sparked a through and broad based investigation to uncover an incredibly complex web of corruption, and the predetermined “best” proved they were no more human than you or I.

  • Duane

    Spare us the crocodile tears over senior commanders who committed “minor” infractions or ethical violations. As if ethics in senior officers is somehow a minor consideration.

    Also spare us the complaints about the DOJ taking so long to wrap things up. The reason the DOJ got involved in the first place was that Glenn had so thoroughly corrupted the entire senior naval leadership and vessel COs and their staffs, right up through NCIS in the Pentagon, the Navy proved it was incapable of investigating its own people. Numerous complaints were filed by junior and mid-level officers against their seniors, went up to NCIS, and then Glenn plants in NCIS literally deep sixed those reports, making them all disappear. When it became obvious in the extreme that the Navy itself was utterly corrupted, the complaints then started flowing to DOJ, who convened a Grand Jury in San Diego, and totally bypassed the corrupted Naval leadership.

    If a lot of careers were hurt, so be it. A lot of those people were either corrupt wrongdoers themselves, or were those who knew exactly what the heck was going on, said nothing, and did nothing. Those guys are just as guilty, because collectively they all corrupted the US Navy.

    The entire affair is so utterly disgusting, it’s unbelievable. Root out the corruption, every single corrupter, corruptee, and “look the other way and say nothing” knuckleheads who allowed one guy to corrupt the world’s greatest Navy.

  • MDK187

    One cannot escape the similarities between this DOJ stunt and the Mueller-investigation against the Trump campaign : Drags on for years, produces sub-minimal actual results, the vast majority involved neither cleared, nor charged. Like the former head of ONI. Reading this summary, and thinking of the inexplicable ship collisions, one has to entertain the idea that factions in the USG set out to “do in” the officer corps of the 7th Fleet.
    An FBI hand once told me that the 7th was well penetrated by the Chinese. I said he was full of it. Now this article here could be regarded as the Navy’s own indulgence in self-sympathy, if there wasn’t that other long-drawn-out FBI/DOJ stunt against Trump – one based on “evidence” manufactured by Putin’s own oligarchs, and played off to the FBI through foreign agents, all at the request of the DNC. Putting the two pieces together, maybe the staffer nailed it best : “China could never have dreamt up a way to do this much damage to the U.S. Navy’s Pacific leadership.” Unless China went through the DOJ.

    • Duane

      Mueller: less than two years so far; dozens of indictments; five convictions or guilty pleas so far including the highest officials in the Trump campaign (the campaign manager) and administration (the National Security Advisor), and the Trump organization (Trump’s personal attorney and “fixer” who pled guilty and named Trump as the one who directed him to commit multiple Federal crimes). Just indicted another one of Trump’s closest political advisors today.

      By virtually all recent polling, strong majorities Americans believe that the Mueller investigation and “Russia investigation” is valid, serious, necessary, not a “witch hunt”, and will prove that Trump either committed serious crimes or serious ethical violations.

      Whenever Mueller is done, likely within the next several months, Trump himself will stand indicted of Federal crimes and likely to be impeached by Congress.

      If that is your definition of a “stunt” then it is about darned time that the FBI and DOJ do whatever “stunting” is necessary to protect the American people from their lawbreaking traitorous POTUS.

      • Ed L

        Ther are Other recent pollings show there are other strong majorities that believe the Mueller investigation and Russia investigation is a political witch hunt being fueled by career politicians who Committed serious crimes and ethical violations (while earning millions of dollars) that were done in backroom deals in Congress with certain lobbyist and within certain offices by political appointees in the previous administration. I say it is time to pull the chain on that big toilet bowl that Washington D.C. has become

        • Duane

          Nope – no valid polls not performed by the GOP or its wholly owned subsidiary FoxNews agree with what you wrote. ALL the polls run by independent polling authorities show strong public support for the Mueller investigation of Trump’s Russian treachery.

          • Ed L

            When it comes to polls it really depends what rock you look under. Professional Politicans are dragging America down. I am looking forward to a little solar storm to set things back to the 1600’s even if it is only for a few weeks. The recovery time is expected to be few weeks or a couple of months. That will really stir things up. glad i live out in the country. I head a rumor that Pravda is saying Hillary was behind all of it. Anyway at our VFW we decided that if a professional politican ever wanted to visit those politicans would have to get down on their knees and pucker up

          • muzzleloader

            So you think that a Fox poll is invalid? Why, because you don’t like it?
            What is valid? CNN? MSNBC?
            NPR? Politico? The Guardian?
            CBS? Every one of them are leftists and despise trump.
            “Independent polling”means nothing.

          • juliet7bravo

            Last poll I saw, Trump was losing the election in a landslide…

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Those would be the same polls that told us your gal Hillary would be POTUS, right Duane? Hmmm?

            We also all KNOW that had your gal Hillary actually won, there would be NO such investigations that got ‘convictions’ or indictments against people who did those things YEARS BEFORE there was ever a Trump campaign. Of course, cowards like yourself always conveniently overlook that.

          • Duane

            I am not foolish enough to rely on polls to project election winners when the margin is essentially zero, as it was in 2016.

            Besides, Trump had massive amounts of help from his Russian masters to flip the 75,000 or so voters in three states that won him the election in the Electoral College.

            In any event, the polls just two months ago were absolutely correct in predicting the buttwhiippping administered to the GOP in the mid-term election. And now Trump is already feeling the effects of that buttwhipping with his humiliation by Nancy Pelosi last week.

            No wall, no Mexicans paying for the wall that will not be built.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            Yeah Hillary, keep whining, you lost. I love the “flipped 75000 voters” garbage. Do tell Hillary, how did that happen? How did those voters who were supposedly going to vote for you just suddenly switch? LOL.. (this should be good!)..

            As always, there’s just not enough cheese in this world to go with your whine.

      • MDK187

        Mueller is shooting blanks. Everything he got is far off-course from the original subject. What Mueller does is an irritation for Trump, but ultimately a useful one, as it creates the precedent for reciprocation.
        What the Fat Leo investigation has done to the Navy, however, is not just an irritation with an option for payback at the end : this is doing lasting damage, to the service, to the people in the service, and thus to American strategic disposition in the Pacific.
        Mueller’s investigation of Trump is a clownshow, but this Fat Leo investigation is much more insidious in its effects. And in my experience, the end effect is what reveals the original intent.

    • joe

      oh because Hillary was in bed with Russia on the nuclear deals. ya i thought that Hillary-DNC hired Steele and got the biased/bogus dossier into the FBI but i didn’t even think about Hillary colluding with her contacts in Russia but that makes sense.

      all i know is that she got Trump good. she hit him 10x harder than he could ever have imagined.

      even if the campaign knew the DNC emails were getting hacked, that doesn’t mean collusion with Russia;
      there were intermediaries like Stone/Assange as a stopgap. Mueller has nothing, he will find nothing linking Trump directly to Russia. there is no evidence for it. just an arsenal of ammo for the Trump haters and turned everybody that was on the fence. darn shame too, because USA needs at least 8-years of Trump to reconstruct the 8-year of Obama malfeasance and to shore-up policies that Democrats will try to undo in the future. America’s future looks very bleak to me: it’s bad enough the infrastructure is dated & crumbling but with the rise of grey-area warfare perpetrated by Commies and a busted immigration system supported by over half of our politicians i.e. the LEFT, the direction we are heading as evidence of the past 10-years and the downward spiral of partisan relations since Trump took office in 2016 it’s going to be the Left vs Right & screw the people that elected them to do a job that serves the interests of the voting public.

      • MDK187

        Yeah, the part that is generally left out is that the bogus dossier was prepared and handed to Steele by Russkies in Putin’s circle. So the real colluder is Hillary & the DNC. At the end of the game, that will be pinned on them and they will go down with it, but I didn’t want to sidetrack the discussion from the original topic here. I only brought Mueller’s clownshow into the picture because its mechanics is so much similar to what’s being done by DOJ to Navy personnel. Actual crimes are few and far in between, but people get destroyed in the process. The high ratio of personnel-destruction to actual convictions here leaves the impression that the real purpose is the destruction, and not justice.

        • joe

          right. the “special counsel” begins picking off associates 1 by 1, for various crimes and ethical lapses that may or may not have anything to do with the original crime, or scope of the ‘investigation’ as it were. and so with it many otherwise decent people are taken down, smeared or criminalized. and the USN navy officer corps is left in shambles, with only a few suited take over senior leadership positions of which there will be a multitude.

          i read a decent piece on General Flynn the other day and how he hasn’t even done anything wrong. yet the fake news media ignores the facts and original story and taking only the talking points of the Mueller Club to make an entirely new narrative that fits these scandal stories designed to further damage the trump admin.

          it’s really disgusting the journalism or what passes for journalism in USA now, yet the partisan DOJ and FBI welcome it to further their Democratic-backed deep state & the propaganda continues to escalate. The US is now officially on-par with Russia/China and their state owned media, since 90% of the Western media corps have decided to back the DNC; these people have no shame.

          the biggest problem with all of this is that all of the Democrats who deserve just as much shame & investigating as anybody else just slip out the back door. Hillary and her cronies should have been prosecuted and jailed 3x over with all of the known evidence against them. yet we have a witch hunt disguised as a circus that is being funded by those of us who would rather not, given the choice.

          the other biggest problem is our nation’s investigative & prosecutorial wings are utterly compromised, thereby ignoring blatantly obvious cases and going off of scope & tangent to “make” other cases. there HAS to be an overhaul. how long can this go on??

          • MDK187

            I think an “overhaul” is coming, both the easy way and the hard way at the same time.
            The easy part is that Trump will eventually start cleaning up the DOJ.
            The hard part is that there will be both economic and military disruptive events that make the cleanup much more easy to accomplish : in brief, as the global monetary ponzi croaks, the merry-go-happy funding machine that has thus far enabled keeping the apparatus on the dole is now going into reverse. This will hit regular folks as well, so this is gonna be hard indeed, but hardship will now visit the “elite” as well. And in a BIG way, like they never figured.
            Keep in mind : “the swamp” could never have formed without this ponzi-finance, and this is now going out the window.

          • joe

            what is this global-monetary ponzi?

          • tom dolan

            Frankly this has nothing to do with the subject of this post but I will say that Mueller seems far afield of proving any collusion by Trump with the Russians or any obstruction of justice which are the only two impeachable offences relevant. The Russians didn’t need Trump or his organization to trash Clinton”s campaign. They just exposed emails proving to Sanders supporters that the Democrats rigged their primary.

      • Observant_One

        Frankly, Mueller needs to be hung from a yard arm for his latest “attack” on Roger Stone’s home. Muller is a POS.

        • muzzleloader

          Yes he is. He sent 29 federal agents in full body armor, carrying fully automatic weapons, to arrest a 66 year old man who had a deaf wife who had no idea what was going on. It was an act that was worthy of KGB stormtroopers. Absolutely outrageous. Mueller is a thug.

          • Chesapeakeguy

            With whore media like the slime at CNN in tow to boot.

  • b2

    re- hidden cost/no end in sight: No…really?

    Like I have written before EVERY officer, chief or GS who had anything to do with port services, port visits and general logistics who served the Navy fleet during the time Fat Leonards ownership of that “Pirate” company is guilty of some layer of involvement of at least impropriety ranging from admin error to the more serious offensives and bribery. This is dealing with foriegners and pirates like the navy has had to do since it first floated…

    EVERY one means iterally, several thousand people…. thinks about that….However, the Obama administration set the investigation up to be used as a “force-shaping tool” and long-term dogging investigation..a jobs program per se for the lawyers, etc.. IMO, the Trump administration should not let this be a never ending story…I say, give them an end date to terminate this.. I am not calling it a witch hunt but it is almost a McCarthy like pogram on the navy…

    I have been mentioning this for several years…its abvious to anyone who can connect dots…

    USNI news- did you ever think this present climate, visa vis this “hunt”, could have contributed to recent ship handling incidents out there resulting in deaths?

  • Kelly J

    Just a side thought…now that Leonard is in jail and GDMA is defunct…How are husbanding services in Westpac these days? Are ships still able to get into those strange, but strategic, ports? Are services being supplied adequately? Are the ships crews being taken care of? Or is this now another source of strain and fatigue that are wearing down crews and staff…leading to poor performance and the recent increase in accidents and fatalities?
    In a region where shady business is the expected norm, maybe the 35 million over 15 years…2.3 million per year, a rounding error considering the magnitude of the money involved…was worth what the fleet received in return? Ships repaired and serviced so the crews had more time for training and rest/recreation. Could that few million being skimmed have prevented the issues with McCain and Fitz?
    Now, the Sailors and Officers who let themselves get caught up in this…the hookers and trips and all…were criminally stupid. They could have done their jobs without letting Leonard get them into a blackmail situation (and how many times did our security training cover espionage via blackmail; the honeypot trap). They could have called Leonard on any of the more egregious expenses (always on the assumption that he, or any husbanding agent, are still taking kickbacks from the local economy). Its almost a cultural norm that you have to work around, just don’t get complacent and get yourself caught up into that norm.
    But they didn’t. They were stupid. And the stupid shall be punished.
    Topping this off, the Flag level was well aware and should have stepped in early, fired the Os and CPOs who ensnared themselves, and let Leonard know his methods would result in exactly what happened, but years sooner. Leonard could have still provided the required services, play the Big Man across the region, and made his millions. But it would have been above board and likely a relationship still enduring today.
    But the question remains, How is the current quality of the services being rendered?

    • b2

      “…And the stupid shall be punished.” I agree.. However, there is a big picture alluded to in the article and “Reality sucks”:

      Read my post. 7th fleet/WESTPAC is 1/2 or more the operational Navy personnel and existing leadership..maybe more is affected. As I said: “EVERY officer, chief or GS who served in that theater during those Fat Leonard years” is guilty of “stupid”:. Institutionally and criminally…

      Cut off your nose to smite your face? How is the Navy to get better and bigger (more ships-China Russia..) after you go after 1/2 the people in key roles, or cowl the others into submissiveness. We need to seperate the stupid from the criminal and fast…..

      I say End it. Now. All the moralizing and high-toned B.S. in here from people that never led a pack o’dogs is not helping the US Navy as an institution. The port facilites business are Pirates out there..how do you do business w/Pirates? Not easy.

      Just wait until someone starts tracking all the hundreds of “Billions” for arrangements we’ve done since 9-11 for another form of “Pirate” in the ME. Those typeself serving investigations will go on for decades…..

      • juliet7bravo

        If these officers were willing to swallow their morals, ethics, and integrity for a hooker, steak dinner, and/or a Cuban cigar, what would they be willing to do for $1 million? Or more?

        How does taking kickbacks from a “pirate” get the job done? Or “help
        the USN as an institution”? All it does, is raise the cost of doing business. What are we, a bunch of ragheads, the Mafia? Is greasing palms, to do business with the USN really where we want to go?

        • b2

          Like I said- “…..never led a pack o’dogs”… blue-lighter…

          I am NOT condoning criminal behavior you mention. Glad to see those guilty of criminal behavior getting their due.

          But face the reality:

          #1- We are dealing with Pirates in port services in WESTPAC- train our people to deal with them- as honorably and legally as possible.

          #2- The US Navy leadership is bad enough as it is when it needs to be poised for the future and here we are conducting an “internal pogrom”….

          Who survives such a B.S., persistent and never-ending investigation? Those leaders we don’t want..IE- those who are scared/lazy/clueless of making a decision.

          BTW, Tailhook WAS a modern day Witch-Hunt, beginning to end. I observed that one close hand.. Look at Muellers tactics re Perjury in the Collusion investigation today…Recollect Martha Stewart and Bill Clinton- both committed it but only one served time… It always comes down to politics.. In this case “force shaping”… Imagine the pressures going on to produce results from this investigation. The Fat Leonard scandal isn’t a Witch Hunt right now but is fast morphing into one. Do we need this to go on forever?

          That isn’t good for the US Navy or the Nation- however I understand many of you suffer from Schadenfreude….

  • juliet7bravo

    How many of these people knew about Fat Leonard, but said nothing? Looked the other way while people were partying on Leonard’s dime? How many of these “potential leaders” refused/failed to do the right thing as junior or mid-grade officers? They had the opportunity to lead…didn’t.

    How much of this is because the USN refused to police itself for years? Answer; every single bit of it. Why? Because every year it went on, more and more of our officers were implicated. Far easier to “go along, to get along”, than to do what needed to be done.

    I shed no tears for them. It’s a steaming pile of trash, that should have been hauled out 15 years ago.

  • ABHC(AW/SW)

    When the trial for Capt David Lausman happens please insure he’s tried “by the book with the book open”. That would be sweet vengeance for the crew of the USS George Washington.

  • LKW-AVP41

    What has changed to make a better process of all this? Multiple bids, Budgets, a system / organization that is in place to provide the needs of the fleet? My sense is there was (is) something wrong deeper down in the system (hopefully was) that has allowed this to fester over so many years. It is all so very sad.

  • The_Usual_Suspect61

    This is not a bad thing. It is good that those who are corrupt were exposed and caught. We could actually use a thinning of the FOGO ranks and it is best to rid ourselves of the unethical and possibly compromised than to just blithely allow these people to represent the United States Navy in the role of Captains and Admirals. They are an embarrassment to the United States Navy and the United States of America. Bread and water then the yardarm.

  • disqus_89uuCprLIv

    Individuals considered potential but as yet unproven offenders should not have any part of their careers, including promotion boards, placed on hold. They should have been treated equally with those not implicated. If promoted they could be reverted based on judicial decision.

    Placing the careers of 450 in jeopardy based on comments of an indicted non-citizen is plainly predjudicial. It reflects the power of lawyers who do not respect the Law. The Navy officers who rolled over and allowed these officers’ careers to be wrecked should be held accountable for their decision. It borders on misfeasance. It probably stems from their desire to “protect” both the Navy and themselves from criticism of not facilitating the investigation.

    A real leader would have told NCIS and DOJ to provide sufficient evidence to indicate criminal actions and if not then stay out of the Pentagon until such evidence is produced.

    This CNO-facilitated fishing expedition cost the USN unknown leadership fatalities while finding only 55 indictable.

    So much for protecting the Navy and
    senior leadership.

    • tom dolan

      A real leader would have demanded his subordinates command with ethical and moral standards consistent with the requirements of their commissions. How dare these frauds dispense non judicial punishment to enlisted personnel when they are engaged in illegal and immoral feather nesting.

  • Mike Mulligan

    Are you connecting the dots on the ship collisions, aircraft collision and this? You essentially got navy justice problems with the collisions and this guy. Nobody fears the Navy’s reach when they first are thinking taking shortcuts and corruption. The Navy drastically needs a congressional investigation on Military readiness.

  • James Bowen

    It is interesting how overzealous the Navy is to go after COs who are involved in collisions and groundings that resulted from non-malicious mistakes, but is reluctant to go after corrupt officers who did maliciously misuse and abuse public resources. The latter deserve far, far more harsh treatment than the former.

  • tom dolan

    If you want to make sure nothing like this ever happens again I recommend reactivating a couple of the highest ranking offenders for the express purpose of making examples out of them. Try them, strip them of rank and pension and send them to naval prison as examples. They’d have had no problem doing it to naval enlisted personnel when they were in position to do so.

  • Yamanote

    Seems like a very self serving semi-justification for the corruption and misconduct that terribly penetrated the Navy.

    I attended the 2012 Navy Ball in Singapore, as a veteran (ex supply officer, now banker), unaffiliated with the Navy or any vendor.

    What shocked me at the time, was the open presentation of 2 gold Rolex watches to U.S. Navy personnel by Fat Leonard, right in front of Admiral Locklear, who was PACOM at the time. It was openly announced as a gift by Glenn Marine. I got the impression of a clear “sense of entitlement” by the attendees. With this type of conduct, openly witnessed by the most senior commander in the region, the tone of corruption was set.

    I sat at a table of vendors who were openly bemoaning the corruption at Sembawang and now I understand what the issues were.

    I remarked to my wife how much the Navy had changed since I got out in 1989 – for the worse.

    The aftermath was that Adm Locklear was denied his seat on JCS and retired. But others, more junior, who took note of the “tone at the top” have been deservedly prosecuted. In my view, the flag officers, like Adm Locklear, that enabled the misconduct should have been more aggressively punished, not just hand tapped.

    In the meantime, honest officers who tried to stop the corruption were sidelined and told to stand down by senior leaders. The suppo contracting officer in Hong Kong comes to mind, who objected to removal of controls over Glenn Marine services and was hammered for it. He resigned in frustration and fury.

    My point is that flag officers skated out of their responsibility, allowing the dishonest to take advantage and spike the honest who objected to the plunder. I also take exception with the Supply Corps officers in SG that should have done their duty, that I learned at Athens, to protect the Navy’s assets from corruption.

    • Craig Whitlock

      Yamanote: I’d like to hear more about the 2012 Navy Ball in Singapore. Could you pls contact me at [email protected]? thanks

  • John Donnelly

    Oh dear! Corrupt officers are no longer available for top posts? Give me a break. Perfect opportunity to bring in some fresher faces and change the culture from the top.

  • JDC

    Anybody who has stood as the Senior Shore patrol officer gets briefed about how to deal with husbanding agents and what is/isn’t illegal. Yes, I had a guy try to buy me dinner, and give me gifts. “No thanks, that is illegal” worked just fine even when he protested. Wasn’t willing to compromise my integrity. Later on, serving on the JCS staff and traveling internationally when offered a gift exchange by foreign Admirals and Generals, I accepted the gift “on behalf of the US Government” and then turned the gift over to the command as required by the regs. Oh, and the gift I gave in return…always came out of my pocket. (Foreign govts have a lot looser ethics rules and senior officers frequently exchange gifts at closing ceremonies).

    I know that this hurts the Navy to have everybody from CPO on up under review. However, I remember the Tailhook days, and the Junior Officers in particular felt like they got hung out to dry, as the senior officers said “gee we didn’t know” and it was left at that. This should remind all CPO and above that there are ethics rules for a reason.

    I’ve seen senior officers violate these rules before. The US Army is really bad at it…go into any 06 or above’s office and you’ll see weapons, golf clubs, and memorabilia all in excess of the $300 permitted. Maybe this will help some remember what the rules are.