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Wednesday
Nov062013

'Massive' Navy Bribery, Hooker Scandal Grows: Third Officer Charged

iStock/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- Another high-ranking Navy officer has been charged with providing a foreign defense contractor classified information in exchange for prostitutes, luxury travel and $100,000 in cash, the latest development in an ever-widening alleged international bribery scandal.

Navy Commander Jose Luis Sanchez, 41, was arrested in Tampa, Fla. Wednesday, becoming the third Navy official to be caught up in the military's investigation into Singapore-based vessel husbandry firm Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), which provides millions of dollars' worth of port services to the Navy in ports across Asia -- and which allegedly provided a lot more to a few purportedly crooked Navy officers.

In September, the Department of Justice announced the separate arrests of Navy Commander and Captain-Select Michael Misiewicz, a rising star in the Navy who was accused of driving business to GDMA in return for luxury travel, hookers and Lady Gaga tickets, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Supervisory Special Agent John Beliveau II, who stands accused of tipping GDMA off to details of the Navy's investigation into the company for similar perks.

Sanchez is accused of giving classified information on ship movements to GDMA CEO Leonard Glenn Francis, according to a charging document unsealed on Wednesday. In return, Francis allegedly arranged for hotel rooms and female escorts during Sanchez's time in port and used couriers to pass along cash payments, as described in emails between the two obtained by investigators.

Francis was arrested in September for allegedly bribing Misiewicz and Beliveau in a similar fashion -- accusations also based in part on a colorful email trail left by the parties involved.

"According to the allegations in this case, a number of officials were willing to sacrifice their integrity and millions of taxpayer dollars for personal gratification," U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said in a statement.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman said, "As described in corruption charges unsealed today, senior officials with the United States Navy abused their trusted positions as leaders in our armed forces by peddling favorable treatment -- and even classified government information -- for their personal benefit."

"Day by day, this massive Navy fraud and bribery investigation continues to widen, and as the charges announced today show, we will follow the evidence wherever it takes us," Raman added.

In a statement, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Navy's Chief Information Officer, said that while the Navy does not discuss ongoing investigations, it "expects our leaders to uphold the highest standards of conduct and professionalism."

Kirby said the Navy will make public as much information as possible without interfering with the investigation, and said the service has already taken "administrative action to protect itself from GDMA."

According to available court records, no one accused in the investigation so far has entered a plea in relation to their charges. GDMA did not immediately return a request for comment.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio