Mastermind of Navy bribery scheme captured in Venezuela after escaping home arrest in San Diego | CNN Politics

2022-09-23 00:53:48


Leonard Francis, the previous army contractor often called “Fats Leonard” who orchestrated the most important corruption scandal in US Navy historical past, was arrested Tuesday morning by authorities in Venezuela on the request of the US Marshals Service, based on the company.

Francis is at the moment detained by authorities in Venezuela and US authorities officers have began proceedings with Venezuela in an try to hunt extradition, Supervisory Deputy US Marshal Omar Castillo informed CNN Wednesday.

US federal regulation enforcement had beforehand filed a so-called “Purple Discover” with the multinational policing group INTERPOL after Francis went on the run earlier this month, Castillo mentioned. A Purple Discover is a worldwide request to taking part INTERPOL members to provisionally arrest a needed suspect pending additional authorized motion, corresponding to extradition.

The previous contractor escaped home arrest in San Diego two weeks in the past by slicing off his GPS monitoring ankle bracelet, Castillo informed CNN on the time.

He escaped simply three weeks earlier than he was set to be sentenced.

Francis entered Venezuela after touring by means of Mexico and Cuba and was arrested at Simón Bolívar Worldwide Airport close to Caracas whereas trying to journey to Russia, based on a social media submit from Venezuelan regulation enforcement.

Francis, whose nickname “Fats Leonard” got here from his then-400-pound heft, pleaded responsible to bribery and fraud fees in 2015.

The investigation into the corruption scandal started in 2013 and touched on capitals and ports throughout the Pacific, together with Singapore, Tokyo, Bangkok and Manila. In the course of the probe, a number of Navy officers had been arrested and accused of accepting money, prostitutes and all-expenses-paid journeys in trade for steering ships to ports the place Francis’ contracting firm operated, offering providers corresponding to gas and tugboats.

He was initially scheduled to look Thursday earlier than a federal decide in San Diego, however a spokesperson for the US legal professional’s workplace for the Southern District of California informed CNN the decide was knowledgeable the defendant is in custody in Venezuela. A subsequent listening to has been scheduled for December 14.

It stays unclear whether or not and the way shortly Venezuelan authorities could cooperate with the US authorities’s request for extradition. Whereas the 2 nations have an extradition treaty, it solely covers a restricted sequence of offenses. And the Biden administration’s refusal to acknowledge the regime of Nicolás Maduro may pose diplomatic challenges to the US Justice Division’s request for cooperation from Venezuelan authorities.

This story has been up to date with extra developments Thursday.

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