Navy officer enters guilty plea in Fat Leonard case

Leonard Glenn Francis Leonard Glenn Francis

AUGUST 16, 2017 — In another development in the so-called Fat Leonard affair, an active-duty U.S. Navy commander — Bobby Pitts, 48, of Chesapeake, VA — pleaded guilty yesterday in connection with his efforts to obstruct a federal criminal investigation of Leonard Glenn Francis, the owner and CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), a multi-national defense contracting firm headquartered in Singapore.

Pitts pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. in connection with the NCIS's investigation of Francis.

Pitts is set to be sentenced on December 1, by U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal of the Southern District of California, who accepted his plea yesterday,

The U.S. Department of Justice says that, 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 learned that NCIS and several civilian employees of the U.S. Navy were investigating whether Francis was over-billing the U.S. Navy on ship husbanding contracts.

Pitts had access to internal U.S. Navy documents on 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 services in fact rendered by the Thai government.

In pleading guilty, Pitts admitted, among other things, to working with Francis and other foreign-defense-contractor personnel to help them cover up GDMA's overcharging practices with respect to providing protection to U.S. Navy forces deployed in the Western Pacific.

So far, 18 of 27 defendants charged in the U.S. Navy bribery and fraud scandal have pleaded guilty.

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