October 6, 2022

A military contractor who was the architect behind the Navy’s “Fat Leonard” scandal has been arrested in Venezuela after he went on the lam earlier this month, the U.S. Marshals Service confirmed to CBS News on Wednesday night.

Leonard Francis, who goes by the nickname “Fat Leonard,” was taken into custody on an Interpol Red Notice at Simon Bolivar International Airport in Caracas while boarding a flight to Cuba, the U.S. Marshals Service told CBS News.

Leonard was under house arrest in San Diego, and was separated for several days until the sentencing cut off his ankle bracelet in early September and ran away.

U.S. Marshals believed Leonard fled south to Mexico after cutting off his tracking bracelet.

Francis was first arrested in San Diego in 2013 and pleaded guilty in 2015 to offering $500,000 in bribes to Navy officers. In return, officers passed him classified information and even went so far as to divert military vessels to ports that were lucrative for his Singapore-based ship servicing company. According to prosecutors, Francis overcharged the US military by $35 million for his company’s services.

According to to his 2015 plea agreement, Francis identified seven Navy officials who accepted bribes and admitted paying the officials hundreds of thousands in cash, as well as luxury goods worth millions. He supplied them with prostitutes and Cuban cigars, luxury travel, Spanish babies and Kobe beef. Officials received spa treatments, premium alcohol, designer handbags, leather goods, designer furniture, watches, fountain pens, decorative swords and handmade model ships, according to court documents.

Over 30 naval officers and contractors have either been convicted or pleaded guilty to charges related to Francis’ services.

Weighing over 400 pounds at times, Francis was colloquially known as “Fat Leonard.”

Francis has been under house arrest since at least 2018 and under the supervision of the federal agency, Pre-Trial Services, which monitors defendants who are out of custody pending sentencing. Before his disappearance, his sentence was scheduled for the end of September, and he was facing up to 25 years in prison.

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