A military contractor named “Fat Leonard” was arrested in Venezuela after he pleaded guilty in a major U.S. Navy corruption scandal, cutting off his ankle bracelet and fleeing, Venezuelan authorities said Wednesday.
Leonard Glenn Francis, who is under house arrest in San Diego and weeks before sentencing, removed his GPS tracker on Sept. 4. US Marshals ServiceFrancis pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribing Navy officials in a $35 million scandal, marshals said.
According to a U.S. Marshals spokesman, Francis was captured by Venezuelan authorities who had informed him that he was being pursued by Interpol while trying to board a plane bound for another foreign country.
He will remain in Venezuelan custody as U.S. Marshals and other federal authorities work out the details of his extradition to the U.S.
Francis was arrested in 2013. He admitted paying $500,000 in bribes to naval officers in exchange for sharing classified information with him and diverting the ship to ports in favor of his ship services company in Singapore.
Prosecutors say Francis and his company overcharged the U.S. military by more than $35 million.
The former military contractor has been under house arrest since at least 2018.
Before his disappearance, the U.S. Pretrial Service, the federal agency that monitors his home confinement, was alerted that his GPS ankle monitor had been tampered with. The pretrial service then notified the U.S. Marshals Service of the GPS alert, the agency said.
Members of the San Diego Fugitive Task Force went to Francis’ residence and entered his home through an unlocked door after declaring themselves, the Marshals Service said. Police were unable to locate Francis, but found his GPS ankle monitor had been severed, law enforcement officials said.
Francis’ neighbors told U.S. marshals that several U-Haul trucks were in and out of the house throughout the week, said U.S. marshal oversight deputy chief Omar Castillo. San Diego Union-Tribune report.
Castillo said Francis had apparently been planning to escape for some time.