Retired CPO Gets Prison in Continuing Federal Probe into ‘Fat Leonard’ Navy Corruption Scandal

November 3, 2020 2:13 PM
Undated photo of Leonard Francis

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – A federal judge issued a 27-month prison sentence for a retired sailor who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery in the ongoing investigation into Glenn Defense Marine Asia and Navy officials who served in the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Retired Chief Petty Officer Brooks Alonso Parks, 48, of Upper Marlboro, Md., also was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge Janis L. Sammartino to pay $25,405.76 in restitution, federal prosecutors in San Diego announced Friday.

Parks, who retired in January 2016, served as a logistics lead petty officer on the U.S. 7th Fleet staff embarked on command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) from December 2005 to February 2009 and was “actively involved in managing the Seventh Fleet’s logistics support budget, signing and processing invoices, and performing other supervisory logistics functions for the Seventh Fleet,” the U.S. attorney’s office in San Diego said in an announcement. He admitted that he “approved and expedited GDMA invoices and payment requests, provided substantial bidding and pricing information to GDMA as part of GDMA’s effort to crush its competitor in the Philippines, and provided limited ship port visit scheduling information.”

“Parks traded on his important position of trust, selling his loyalty to a foreign defense contractor,” Robert S. Brewer, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California, said in the statement.

Leonard Glenn Francis, president of Singapore-based GDMA, has pleaded guilty to being at the helm of a network that traded bribes of cash, luxury hotel suites, prostitutes’ services, expensive cars and cigars and other gifts to Navy officials in exchange for lucrative ship-husbanding contracts in the western Pacific directed and often over-billed to his company to the tune of millions of dollars.

Parks was a first-class petty officer in 2006 when, according court documents, he asked a GDMA executive for a complimentary hotel suite for his vacation, writing in an email that, “It feels good living like a KING on an E-6’s salary!!!”

There were other bribes for himself and friends, prosecutors detailed in the announcement.

For four years, from March 2006 to March 2010, Parks got lavish hotel accommodations from Francis when Blue Ridge came into port throughout Asia. “Parks had expensive taste and wasn’t restrained in demanding ever more luxuriant accommodations from GDMA,” they wrote. “In one instance, Parks demanded the $4,800 per night Ritz Carlton Suite in Singapore, though he was ultimately provided Executive Club Rooms at the Singapore Hilton at a cost of $3,400 for himself and his friends.

“For a port visit in Hong Kong, Parks demanded ‘3 suites at a 5-star hotel,’ for himself. He specified, ‘I’m wanting a Presidential KING Suite (5 Star)).’ As Parks put it, ‘the Glen [GDMA] bug had bit the sh** out of me!!!’ He assured Francis, ‘You know I’ve got your back like you’ve got mine.’”

Parks’ sentencing is the latest judicial action in the continuing, seven-year-old investigation led by federal prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, based in San Diego, delving into broad fraud and bribery allegations involving several dozen Navy uniformed and civilian workers and GDMA executives.

Bryan D. Denny, special agent-in-charge of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), Western Field Office, said in the announcement that Parks’ prison sentence “is another unfortunate but fitting outcome because he willingly chose to put himself and his greed before the needs of the U.S. Navy. Mr. Parks succumbed to and personally benefited from the corrupt temptations” provided by Francis and GDMA.

Eric Maddox, special agent-in-charge of the Naval Criminal Investigation Services’ Economic Crimes Field Office said Parks “betrayed his former service and deserves to be held accountable for illicitly seeking to receive gifts and other items of value in exchange for using his influence to benefit GDMA.”

Parks was indicted in August 2018 along with retired Capt. David W. Haas, who was 7th Fleet’s operations officer from August 2011 to July 2013. Prosecutors accused Haas of taking bribes including cash, prostitute services and other gifts while helping steer contracts to GDMA, according to court records.

Haas, in June, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and agreed to pay restitution to the government of $90,968.82, according to court records. He faces up to five years in prison during his sentencing, scheduled for Dec. 4.

He served as 7th Fleet’s operations officer on its flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) from August 2011 to July 2013 and was indicted in 2018 on eight counts: one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, six counts of bribery and one count of conspiracy to commit honest fraud. The federal grand jury alleged Haas had collected bribes, including cash, in 2011 and 2012, and had accepted pricey hotel stays, dinners, parties and prostitute services provided to him and other Navy officials from Leonard Glenn Francis in exchange for getting lucrative ship-husbanding contracts steered to Glenn’s firm, Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

So far in the GDMA investigation, 34 defendants – mostly Navy officials but also a handful of GDMA executives – have been charged, and 23 have pleaded guilty, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

That includes Francis, who was arrested in November 2013 and pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud charges in February 2015. He admitted to presiding “over a massive, decade-long conspiracy involving scores of U.S. Navy officials, tens of millions of dollars in fraud and millions of dollars in bribes – from cash, prostitutes and luxury travel accommodations to Cuban cigars, Kobe beef and Spanish suckling pigs,” according to prosecutors.

But Francis has yet to be sentenced in the case.

His sentencing hearing, which has been rescheduled multiple times, is slated for March 26, 2021, according to court records. He had agreed to forfeit “not less than” $35 million, an amount Sammartino in a 2015 ruling accepting his guilty plea characterized as “a portion of the gross of proceeds” of the fraud. The judge will determine the final, full amount of forfeiture when Francis is sentenced.

Gidget Fuentes

Gidget Fuentes

Gidget Fuentes is a freelance writer based in San Diego, Calif. She has spent more than 20 years reporting extensively on the Marine Corps and the Navy, including West Coast commands and Pacific regional issues.

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox