Judge Overturns 5 Military Officers’ Felony Convictions

(NewsReady.com) – Five US Navy and Marine officers who sold secrets to a corrupt defense contractor have had their felony convictions thrown out, despite there being no doubt about their guilt. Federal prosecutors bungled their cases, keeping information from the officers’ defense lawyers, and that’s just the latest in a series of problems with the case.

When US Navy ships operate in the vast area of the Pacific Ocean, they often stop at civilian ports for maintenance and to resupply with fuel, food, and water. Because they’re warships they need to use DoD-approved contractors. In 2010, Pentagon accountants started to wonder why one of those contractors, Glenn Defense, seemed to be unusually well informed about US warship movements—and why the bills it submitted for its services seemed to be so much higher than everyone else’s.

After an investigation, it emerged that the company’s CEO, Malaysian contractor Leonard Glenn Francis, nicknamed Fat Leonard, had overcharged the Navy by more than $20 million. Even worse, he’d built a network of officers who kept him informed of ship movements and could even divert ships to ports where he had facilities, sending more business his way.

He’d recruited the officers by funding lavish parties and paying for hotels, meals, and prostitutes. In the end, almost 1,000 officers, including 91 admirals, were investigated; 34 faced criminal charges.

However, on May 21, a San Diego judge dismissed the felony convictions of five former officers recruited by Fat Leonard. USMC Colonel Enrico DeGuzman and former US Navy officers Captain Donald Hornbeck, Chief Warrant Officer Robert Gorusch, and Commander Jose Luis Sanchez all pleaded guilty to reduced misdemeanor charges of disclosing classified documents; Lieutenant Commander Stephen Shedd’s entire case was dismissed.

All these officers are guilty of supplying information to Leonard Glenn Francis in exchange for money and services and collaborating in the theft of taxpayers’ money. Hornbeck abused his position as operations officer for the Seventh Fleet to divert ships to Glenn Defense facilities. Now they’ve all had their felony charges thrown out because government prosecutors didn’t do their jobs properly.

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