Published On: Thu, Sep 22nd, 2022

U.S. fugitive known as ‘Fat Leonard’ apprehended in Venezuela after weeks on the run

A military contractor known as “Fat Leonard,” who cut off his ankle bracelet and fled after pleading guilty in a major U.S. Navy corruption scandal, was apprehended in Venezuela, authorities said Wednesday.

Leonard Glenn Francis, who was on house arrest in San Diego and weeks away from sentencing, removed his GPS tracker Sept. 4, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. Francis had pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribing Navy officials in a $35 million scandal, the Marshals said.

Francis was captured by Venezuelan authorities, who had been made aware that he was on the run by Interpol, while attempting to board a plane bound for another foreign country, according to a U.S. Marshals spokesperson.

He will remain in Venezuelan custody while U.S. Marshals and other federal authorities work out details about his extradition to the U.S.

Francis was arrested in 2013. He pleaded guilty to offering $500,000 in bribes to Navy officers, who in exchange shared classified information with him and redirected military vessels to ports that would be beneficial for his Singapore-based ship servicing company.

Prosecutors say Francis and his firm overcharged the U.S. military more than $35 million.

The former military contractor had been under house arrest since at least 2018.

Prior to his disappearance, the U.S. Pretrial Services, the federal agency in charge of monitoring his home confinement, received an alert that his GPS ankle monitor was being tampered with. Pretrial Services then notified the U.S. Marshals Service about the GPS alert, the agency said.

Members of the San Diego Fugitive Task Force went to Francis’ residence and, after announcing themselves, went into his home through an unlocked door, the Marshals Service said. Officers were unable to locate Francis, but found his GPS ankle monitor that had been cut off, the marshals said.

Francis’ neighbors told U.S. marshals that several U-Haul trucks had been in and out of the house all week, said Omar Castillo, supervisory deputy U.S. Marshal, The San Diego Union Tribune reported. 

It appeared clear Francis had been planning his escape for some time, Castillo said.

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