Three admirals censured in "Fat Leonard" affair

From left: File photos show Rear Adms. Mike Miller, Terry Kraft and David Pimpo seen in happier days From left: File photos show Rear Adms. Mike Miller, Terry Kraft and David Pimpo seen in happier days USCG photographs

FEBRUARY 11, 2015  — Three U.S. Navy flag officers have received letters of censure in relation to Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) bribery and corruption scandal, known in Navy circles as the "Fat Leonard" affair — a reference to Glenn Marine founder, Leonard Glenn Francis.

Rear Admirals Mike Miller, Terry Kraft and David Pimpo were all censured for their interactions with GDMA during the January to July 2006 deployment of the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, when Miller was the strike group commander, Kraft the carrier's commanding officer, and Pimpo the ship's supply officer on that cruise.

According to a recent press report, the three are among  an estimated three dozen admirals under federal investigation for potential wrongdoing in the Glenn  case. Others whose names have emerged are Vice Adm. Ted Branch, the head of naval intelligence, and Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, the director of intelligence operations. Both were suspended by the Navy on November 8, 2013 with their security clearances revoked.

While senior officers are under investigation they remain frozen in place in terms of career progress and the sheer numbers affected by the GDMA probe are having a ripple effect, clogging up promotions across the service.

Here's the statement on Miller, Kraft and Pimpo that the Navy released yesterday:

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has issued Secretarial Letters of Censure to three senior officers following a thorough review into their interactions with Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) in the 2006-2007 timeframe. GDMA is the subject of a federal fraud and bribery investigation which was initiated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).

Mabus directed the appointment of a Consolidated Disposition Authority in March 2014 to act as an independent authority to review GDMA cases forwarded by the Department of Justice to the Navy for administrative action. The purpose of the CDA, in this case headed by Admiral John Richardson, is to ensure that individuals are held appropriately accountable when less than criminal allegations are substantiated.

"All Navy officers, particularly our senior leadership in positions of unique trust and responsibility, must uphold and be held to the highest standards of personal and professional behavior. After reviewing the findings and recommendations of the CDA, I decided that these three officers, whose actions were revealed during the GDMA investigation demonstrated poor judgment and a failure of leadership in prior tours," said Mabus.

To document their leadership failure, Mabus issued Secretarial Letters of Censure to:

  • Rear Adm. Michael Miller, then-Commander, Carrier Strike Group 7 embarked on USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Miller is currently serving as a special assistant to the Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy.
  • Rear Adm. Terry Kraft, then-Commanding Officer, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Kraft is currently serving as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan and Commander, Navy Region Japan.
  • Rear Adm. David Pimpo, then-supply officer of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Pimpo is currently serving as Commander, Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Weapon Systems Support.

Kraft and Pimpo have since submitted requests to retire. The Navy will now process these two retirement requests and the previously submitted retirement request from Miller."Censure was both necessary and appropriate," said Mabus. "I have now received the retirement requests of all three officers, and we will process them appropriately."

These three officers were found to have improperly accepted gifts from a prohibited source, two were found to have improperly endorsed a commercial business, and one engaged in solicitation of gifts and services from a prohibited source, when they were deployed to the Seventh Fleet area of responsibility during the 2006-2007 timeframe.

The review concluded that these officers violated the Standards of Ethical Conduct, U.S. Navy Regulations, and/or the Joint Ethics Regulation, demonstrating poor judgment and a failure of leadership. More specifically, the review concluded that the solicitation and acceptance of these gifts as well as the inappropriately familiar relationship with Mr. Leonard Glenn Francis, President and Chief Executive Officer of GDMA, cultivated an unacceptable ethical climate within the respective commands.

Kraft will be replaced by Rear Adm. Matthew J. Carter and Pimpo will be replaced by Rear Adm. Paul J. Verrastro.

The GDMA investigation continues by NCIS and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS). The United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California in San Diego and the Department of Justice Criminal Division in Washington, D.C. are leading the prosecution. It is anticipated that they will refer additional cases to the Navy for review and disposition. The Navy will review these matters and take appropriate action. The time of completion is unknown, but it is expected that this process will continue for some time.

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