Active-Duty U.S. Navy Commander Sentenced for Conspiring with Foreign Defense Contractor to Defraud the U.S. Navy
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher (619) 546-9714 and Patrick Hovakimian (619) 546-9718
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – December 1, 2017
SAN DIEGO – U.S. Navy commander Bobby Pitts was sentenced today to 18 months in prison, a $15,000 fine and $7,500 in restitution for conspiring to impede the Navy’s investigation of Singapore-based defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis.
Pitts, 48, of Chesapeake, Va., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, admitting that he conspired to protect Francis, owner and chief executive of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) from allegations of wrongdoing.
Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribery and fraud charges, admitting that he presided 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 and gifts – from cash, prostitutes and luxury travel to Cuban cigars, Kobe beef and Spanish suckling pigs.
In pronouncing sentence today, U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino told the defendant that in committing his crime, Pitts “betrayed the Navy and betrayed the Country.”
According to admissions made as part of his plea agreement, from August 2009 to May 2011, Pitts served as the Officer in Charge of the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Industrial Supply Command (FISC) in Singapore. As part of his duties, Pitts was responsible for overseeing the legal and ethical execution of the U.S. Navy’s ship husbanding contracts in the Pacific, including those held by Francis.
In 2009 and 2010, Pitts learned that Naval Criminal Investigative Service and several civilian employees of the U.S. Navy were investigating whether Francis was over-billing the U.S. Navy on ship husbanding contracts. In fact, Pitts had access to internal U.S. Navy documents pertaining to investigative steps that the U.S. Navy was considering and admitted that he shared this information with Francis, with the intent to impede and obstruct the U.S. Navy’s oversight of its contracts with GDMA.
On Nov. 23, 2010, for example, Pitts forwarded to a representative of GDMA an internal U.S. Navy email discussing FISC’s intention to contact officials with the Royal Thai Navy to determine whether GDMA had been billing the U.S. Navy for force protection services in fact provided by the Thai government.
“Pitts deliberately and methodically undermined government operations and in doing so, diverted his allegiance from his country and colleagues to a foreign defense contractor, and for that, he is paying a high price,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman.
So far, 19 of 28 defendants charged in the U.S. Navy bribery and fraud scandal have pleaded guilty.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher and Patrick Hovakimian of the Southern District of California and Assistant Chief Brian R. Young of the Fraud Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
DEFENDANT Case Number: 16-CR-1207
Commander Bobby Pitts Age 48 Chesapeake, Virginia
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371
Maximum Penalty: Five years in prison, a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater
Defense Criminal Investigative Service
Naval Criminal Investigative Service
Defense Contract Audit Agency