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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 27, 2016

Three Current and Former Navy Officers Charged in Expanding Bribery and Fraud Probe

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher (619) 546-9714 and Patrick Hovakimian (619) 546-9718

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY May 27, 2016

SAN DIEGO, CA – Three current and former U.S. Navy officers appeared in federal court today to face charges that they secretly worked on behalf of foreign defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis to advance the interests of his company, including instances in which a highly influential captain allowed Francis to ghostwrite official Navy documents and correspondence and submit them as his own.

In exchange, Francis plied the now-retired Captain Michael Brooks, 57, of Fairfax Station, Virginia, with prostitutes, luxury travel, a days-long party in a presidential suite and other gifts. Also charged this week in the massive bribery and fraud scheme were Commander Bobby Pitts, 47, of Chesapeake, Virginia; and Lieutenant Commander Gentry Debord, 47, who is based in Singapore.

The charging documents allege that in return for lavish entertainment and travel expenses, the services of prostitutes and other illicit gifts, the defendants brazenly used their public offices to foist benefit after benefit upon Francis and GDMA, including passing on sensitive, internal U.S. Navy information to advance GDMA’s business interests and advocating for GDMA at every turn.

Brooks and Debord were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery; Pitts was charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of obstruction of official proceedings.  All of the charges relate to the defendants’ interactions with Francis, the former CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), a defense contracting firm based in Singapore with a decades-long relationship with the U.S. Navy.

Brooks and Pitts made their initial appearances today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Brooks and Pitts made their initial appearances today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia; Debord appeared in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. Brooks was allowed to post a $50,000 bond; Pitts was granted a $5,000 bond, ordered to be subject to electronic monitoring and to appear in the Southern District of California on June 10; Debord was granted a $40,000 bond secured by real property. He is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Bartick on June 9, 2016.

According to the indictment, from June 2006 to July 2008, Brooks served as the U.S. Naval Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines. In this position, Brooks served as the representative of the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the United Forces of the United States in Manila and also as the military advisor to the United States Ambassador.

The indictment alleges that in exchange for travel and entertainment expenses, hotel rooms and the services of prostitutes – which Brooks and Francis referred to in code as “chocolate” or “mocha shakes” or “high tea” -- Brooks used his office to benefit GDMA and Francis. In one instance on May 25, 2008, Brooks attended a days-long party Francis hosted for U.S. Navy officials during a port visit to Manila by the USS Blue Ridge with alcohol, prostitutes and lavish hotel accommodations in the presidential suite of the Makati Shangri-La, among other luxuries.

According to the indictment, Brooks secured quarterly diplomatic clearances for GDMA vessels, which allowed GDMA vessels to transit into and out of the Philippines under the diplomatic imprimatur of the U.S. Embassy; he limited the amount of custom fees and taxes that GDMA was required to pay in the Philippines; and enabled GDMA to avoid inspection of any quantity or type of cargo that it transported.

The indictment also alleges that Brooks used his position and influence to advocate for and advance GDMA’s interest and that Brooks allowed Francis and others inside GDMA to ghostwrite U.S. Navy documents and correspondence, which Brooks then submitted as his own, objective work product. 

According to the indictment, from August 2009 to May 2011, Pitts was the Officer in Charge of the Navy’s Fleet Industrial Supply Command (FISC), which was charged with meeting the logistical needs of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet. The indictment alleges Pitts conspired with Francis and others to deprive the Department of the Navy with its right to have its affairs conducted free from corruption, fraud, and obstruction.  

In particular, in an effort to obstruct and impede the Department of the Navy’s ability to properly oversee and administer its ship husbanding contracts with GDMA, Pitts allegedly provided Francis with a hard copy of an NCIS report marked “for official use only,” which detailed an investigation by NCIS into GDMA for contract fraud and other improprieties. According to the indictment, the report detailed NCIS’s investigative actions and the witnesses that NCIS had interviewed. The indictment further alleged that in November 2010, Pitts forwarded to a GDMA employee an internal Navy email discussing details of FISC’s efforts to investigate whether GDMA was improperly charging the U.S. Navy for force protection services.

On November 23, 2010, Pitts gave GDMA an internal U.S. Navy email discussing FISC’s intention to contact Thai officials to determine whether GDMA had billed the U.S. Navy for force protection services – such as guards to protect U.S. ships while in port - that the Royal Thai Navy had provided free of charge.

According to a criminal complaint, from November 2007 to August 2013, Debord served in several logistical and supply positions in the Western Pacific. In exchange for cash, hotel stays and the services of prostitutes, Debord allegedly provided Francis with inside Navy information and documents, including information on an investigation into GDMA billing practices.

Debord further instructed GDMA to fraudulently increase its invoices to the U.S. Navy in order to cover the value of cash, hotel rooms, and other things of value provided to Debord. To conceal the true nature of his relationship with Francis, Debord referred to prostitutes as “cheesecake” or “bodyguards.”  For example, on October 13, 2008, Debord emailed a GDMA executive with pictures of a woman, commenting: “This is the cheesecake I want…” In November 2008, Debord wrote to a GDMA employee demanding a three-bedroom furnished apartment in Hong Kong: “I need a 3BDR one if you can. Away from sailors but near bars/clubs/cheesecakes.”

“We continue to uncover far-reaching, troubling levels of corruption as this investigation expands,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “We will keep going until we are sure we have held accountable every person who traded integrity and honor for parties and prostitutes.”

“Today's charges and arrests are yet another example of the continued dedication by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the Department of Justice to identify and

prosecute those individuals who would abuse their positions of trust within the Department of Defense,” said James B. Burch, Director, Defense Criminal Investigative Service. “The conduct alleged in this investigation is deeply troubling. Defense Criminal Investigative Service and our law enforcement partners will

continue to investigate and seek to prosecute any individual, regardless of position, who would put our mission of 'Protecting America's Warfighters' at risk.”

“The GDMA investigation is moving forward with these arrests but much work remains to be done,” said Andrew Traver, Director of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. “As we've stressed from the outset of this investigation, NCIS is committed to following the evidence wherever it leads and regardless of who is found to have violated the trust placed in them.”

Including those charged yesterday, 13 individuals have been charged in connection with this scheme; of those, nine have pleaded guilty, including U.S. Navy Capt. Daniel Dusek, U.S. Navy Captain (Select) Michael Misiewicz, Lieutenant Commander Todd Malaki, NCIS Special Agent John Beliveau, Commander Jose Luis Sanchez and U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug. Former Department of Defense civilian employee Paul Simpkins awaits trial.

On Jan. 21, 2016, Layug was sentenced to 27 months in prison and a $15,000 fine; on Jan. 29, 2016, Malaki was sentenced to 40 months in prison and to pay $15,000 in restitution to the Navy and a $15,000 fine; on March 18, 2016, Alex Wisidagama, a former GDMA employee, was sentenced to 63 months and $34.8 million in restitution to the Navy; on March 25, 2016, Dusek was sentenced to 46 months in prison and to pay $30,000 in restitution to the Navy and a $70,000 fine; and on April 29, 2016, Misiewicz was sentenced to 78 months in prison and to pay a fine of $100,000 and to forfeit $95,000 in proceeds for the scheme.

NCIS, DCIS and DCAA are conducting the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher and Patrick Hovakimian of the Southern District of California and Assistant Chief Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.             

Those with information relating to fraud, corruption or waste in government contracting should contact the NCIS anonymous tip line at www.ncis.navy.mil or the DOD Hotline at www.dodig.mil/hotline, or call (800) 424-9098.

DEFENDANT                                                          Case Number: 16-CR-1206                                     

U.S. Navy Captain Michael Brooks, retired               Age 57                        Fairfax Station, Virginia

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy to Commit Bribery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371

Maximum Penalty: 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine,

DEFENDANT                                                          Case Number: 16-CR-1207                                     

Commander Bobby Pitts                                            Age 47                        Chesapeake, Virginia

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371

Maximum Penalty: 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine,

Obstruction of Proceedings, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1505

Maximum Penalty:  5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine,

DEFENDANT                                                          Case Number: 161510                                             

Lieutenant Commander Gentry Debord                     Age 47                        Singapore                   

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Conspiracy to Commit Bribery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371

Maximum Penalty: 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine,

INVESTIGATING AGENCIES

Defense Criminal Investigative Service

Naval Criminal Investigative Service

Defense Contract Audit Agency

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topic(s): 
Public Corruption
Press Release Number: 
CAS16-0527-Brooks
Updated May 27, 2016