Retired CWO pleads guilty as “Fat Leonard” case rolls on

Written by Nick Blenkey
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In the latest development in the so-called “Fat Leonard” case, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California reports that on August 31, retired Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Robert Gorsuch admitted in the U.S. District Court in San Diego that he received more than $45,000 in bribes from foreign defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis in exchange for official acts that would help Francis’ ship husbanding business, including the disclosure of multiple classified ship schedules.

54-year-old Gorsuch was one of nine members of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet indicted in March 2017 for participating in a conspiracy with Francis, the owner and CEO of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA).

He is the first , and lowest ranking of the Seventh Fleet defendants to plead guilty. The remaining defendants, who are accused of trading military secrets and substantial influence for sex parties with prostitutes, extravagant dinners and luxury travel, are scheduled for trial on November 1, 2021. They include U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless; Captains David Newland, James Dolan, Donald Hornbeck and David Lausman; Col. Enrico DeGuzman; Lt. Commander Stephen Shedd; and Commander Mario Herrera.

The case has resulted in federal criminal charges against 34 Navy officials, defense contractors and the GDMA corporation. So far, 26 of those have pleaded guilty, admitting that they collectively accepted millions of dollars in luxury travel and accommodations, meals, or services of prostitutes from Francis in exchange for helping GDMA win and maintain contracts and overbill the Navy by over $35 million.

Leonard Glenn Francis himself entered a guilty plea in the case on January 15, 2015, as did GDMA.

Gorsuch was a CWO in the U.S. Navy, who, from January 2005 to March 2008, served as the Seventh Fleet’s Flag Administration Officer. In this role, he provided administrative support to the Seventh Fleet Commander, department heads, and other senior officers of the Seventh Fleet staff.

According to his plea agreement, Gorsuch admitted to receiving the following bribes from Francis:

On or about February 8, 2007, Gorsuch and others attended a party at the Manila Hotel in Manila, Philippines, for which Francis paid expenses, which totaled approximately $15,000.

On or about February 11, 2007, Gorsuch and others stayed at Francis’s expense at the Shangri-La Hotel in Cebu, Philippines.

From March 1-5, 2007, Gorsuch stayed at Francis’s expense at the Shangri-La Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

On or about June 17, 2007, Gorsuch and others dined at Francis’s expense at Altitude Shangri-La in Sydney, Australia.

On or about January 19, 2008, defendant and others stayed at Francis’s expense for two nights at the Ritz Carlton in Tokyo.

According to admissions in his plea agreement, Gorsuch reciprocated by sending Francis disks containing classified ship schedules for the Navy’s Seventh Fleet. In an email to Francis on October 25, 2007, Gorsuch wrote: “By the way, the two disks … the yellow one is the latest with current C7F sked as briefed to the boss. I will investigate on the dates for the ships you requested and get back to you shortly.”

Two days later, Gorsuch, using the same email account, sent Francis an email describing the planned movements of the U.S.S. Tarawa and U.S.S. Hopper for December 17-21, 2007. Likewise, on or about August 3, 2008, Francis emailed Gorsuch at the same email account to make a demand: “I need some [ship schedule] updates. When shall I call you?” Gorsuch responded: “Sked fluctuating a lot right now—should start to solidify next week. Will drop you an e-mail when they are done chopping it up next week and we can talk.”

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