A Malaysian defense contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard” who masterminded one of the biggest bribery scandals in US military history has been arrested in Venezuela after fleeing before his sentencing, authorities said Wednesday.
An international manhunt for Leonard Glenn Francis ended with his arrest by Venezuelan authorities Tuesday morning at a Caracas airport as he was about to board a plane bound for another country, the U.S. Marshals Service said.
The arrest comes ahead of a scheduled sentencing in federal court in California for a bribery scheme that spanned more than a decade and involved dozens of U.S. Navy officers.
There was no word on when he might be extradited to the US.
Francis was under house arrest in San Diego when he cut off his GPS ankle bracelet and escaped on September 4. Ten U.S. agencies were looking for Francis, and authorities offered a $40,000 reward for his arrest.
US authorities have also issued a red notice asking law enforcement agencies around the world to temporarily arrest someone with the possibility of extradition. Malaysia and Singapore have extradition treaties with the United States.
In 2015, Francis pleaded guilty to providing prostitution services, luxury hotels, cigars, fine dining and more than $500,000 in bribes to Navy officials and others to help his Singapore-based ship maintenance company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd . or GDMA. Prosecutors said the company overcharged the Navy by at least $35 million for servicing the ships, many of which were bound for Pacific ports it controlled.
Francis was allowed to remain in home detention receiving medical care while he cooperated with prosecutors. With his help, the prosecutor’s office succeeded in convicting 33 of the 34 defendants, including more than two dozen Navy officers.