“Fat Leonard,” apprehended during Venezuela prisoner exchange, brought before U.S. court to confront bribery allegations

A defense contractor involved in a major bribery scandal within the U.S. military will likely face additional charges upon his return to the United States from Venezuela as part of a prisoner exchange between the two countries, according to a federal prosecutor. Leonard Glenn Francis, also known as “Fat Leonard,” appeared before a federal judge in Miami after removing his ankle monitor and evading authorities. He had been detained in Venezuela but was recently brought back to the U.S. as part of a swap that involved the release of American detainees in exchange for the Biden administration freeing a Colombian-born businessman named Alex Saab, who was charged with money laundering. The shackled Francis, dressed in a beige jumpsuit, remained silent as the judge ordered his transfer to Southern California, where his case was initially filed. Prosecutors announced that Francis would face additional charges for failing to appear at a hearing related to his ongoing bribery case in San Diego. The scandal involving Francis led to the conviction and sentencing of numerous Navy officials, defense contractors, and others on fraud and corruption charges. Investigators found that Francis had defrauded the U.S. military of more than $35 million by bribing high-ranking Navy officers with extravagant gifts, parties, and other inducements. After pleading guilty in 2015, Francis had been on house arrest with an ankle monitor until his escape just weeks before his scheduled sentencing in September 2022. He managed to evade capture for some time before being arrested in Venezuela. Meanwhile, newly unsealed court documents revealed that federal prosecutors had anticipated President Joe Biden granting clemency to Saab and had prepared for his release from U.S. custody based on foreign policy considerations.,

In a recent development, a key figure known as “Fat Leonard” has appeared in a United States court to face bribery charges. This individual, whose real name is not provided, was released during a prisoner swap with Venezuela. Fat Leonard is accused of engaging in a bribery scheme that targeted high-ranking U.S. Navy officials. The alleged scheme involved providing luxurious gifts, such as prostitutes, travel, and lavish dinners, in exchange for classified information and preferential treatment. The court proceedings will determine the accountability and potential consequences for Fat Leonard’s involvement in this scandalous bribery case.


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