Active-Duty U.S. Navy Commander Pleads Guilty to Conspiring with Foreign Defense Contractor to Defraud the U.S. Navy
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher (619) 546-9714 and Patrick Hovakimian (619) 546-9718
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – August 15, 2017
SAN DIEGO – U.S. Navy commander Bobby Pitts pleaded guilty today in connection with his efforts to obstruct a federal criminal investigation into the exploits of Singapore-based defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis.
Pitts, 48, of Chesapeake, Va., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, admitting that he attempted to protect Francis, owner and chief executive of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA). Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribery and fraud charges, admitting that he presided over a massive, decade-long conspiracy involving “scores” of U.S. Navy officials, tens of millions of dollars in fraud and millions of dollars in bribes and gifts – from cash, prostitutes and luxury travel to Cuban cigars, Kobe beef and Spanish suckling pigs.
Pitts is scheduled to be sentenced on December 1, 2017 by U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino of the Southern District of California.
According to admissions made as part of his plea agreement, from August 2009 to May 2011, Pitts served as the officer in charge of the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Industrial Supply Command (FISC) in Singapore. As part of his duties, Pitts learned that Naval Criminal Investigative Service and several civilian employees of the U.S. Navy were investigating whether Francis was over-billing the U.S. Navy on ship husbanding contracts.
Pitts had access to internal U.S. Navy documents pertaining to investigative steps that the U.S. Navy was considering and admitted that he shared this information with Francis, with the intent to impede and obstruct the U.S. Navy’s oversight of its contracts with GDMA. On Nov. 23, 2010, for example, Pitts forwarded to a representative of GDMA an internal U.S. Navy email discussing FISC’s intention to contact officials with the Royal Thai Navy to determine whether GDMA had been billing the U.S. Navy for services in fact rendered by the Thai government.
In pleading guilty, Pitts admitted, among other things, to working with Francis and other foreign-defense-contractor personnel to help them cover up GDMA’s overcharging practices with respect to providing protection to U.S. Navy forces deployed in the Western Pacific.
So far, 18 of 27 defendants charged in the U.S. Navy bribery and fraud scandal have pleaded guilty. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher and Patrick Hovakimian of the Southern District of California and Assistant Chief Brian R. Young of the Fraud Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
DEFENDANT Case Number: 16-CR-1207
Commander Bobby Pitts Age 48 Chesapeake, Virginia
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Conspiracy to Defraud the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371
Maximum Penalty: 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine,
Defense Criminal Investigative Service
Naval Criminal Investigative Service
Defense Contract Audit Agency
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Southern District of California