Navy Commander Sentenced in Bribery Scandal
by VOA News April 29, 2016
A U.S. Navy commander was sentenced Friday to more than six years in prison for giving classified information on ship deployments to an Asian defense contractor in return for cash, gifts and prostitutes.
Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz was the latest military official to receive a sentence in the "bribes-for-business" scandal, which has primarily involved the U.S. Seventh Fleet. Nine other individuals have been charged in connection with the scheme, and several admirals were censured over it, effectively ending their careers.
In addition to jail time of 78 months, Misiewicz was fined $100,000 in a San Diego federal court on one count of conspiracy and one count of bribery. His sentence was the longest handed out so far in the scandal.
Misiewicz pleaded guilty of providing classified information to a Singapore company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), which used the knowledge to beat competitors and overbill the Navy by millions of dollars. In return, Misiewicz admitted that he was given cash, a designer handbag for his wife, luxury travel for his family and the services of prostitutes.
Misiewicz told prosecutors that he and his conspirators took steps to avoid detection by using clandestine email accounts, which they periodically deleted.
Attorneys for Misiewicz tried to downplay the sensitivity of the classified material that he gave to GDMA and said the commander was not aware the contractor was defrauding the Navy.
GDMA's work for the Navy involved tending to and supplying warships when they arrived in various East Asian ports.
Prosecutors said Misiewicz and his co-conspirators gave the defense contractor detailed information regarding ship deployments so the company would be ready to bid on servicing the U.S. ships upon arrival. Misiewicz was also accused of using his influence to divert ships to Asian ports that were controlled by GDMA, allowing the contractor to inflate prices.
The head of GDMA, Leonard Francis, has pleaded guilty of bribery and fraud charges and is waiting sentencing. Known in military circles as "Fat Leonard" because of his large size, Francis agreed to forfeit $35 million he made in the scheme.
GDMA has serviced Navy ships in Asia for 25 years.
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