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Wednesday
Dec182013

NCIS agent pleads guilty in massive Navy bribery scandal

A special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) pleaded guilty Tuesday for his role in a huge international fraud and bribery ring, admitting he tipped a Singapore-based Navy contractor about ongoing criminal probes in exchange for prostitutes, cash and luxury travel.

Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau Jr., 44, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery. He'll be sentenced on March 9 by U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino of the Southern District of California.

Beliveau faces up five years in prison for conspiracy and up to 15 years for the bribery charge.

"In his plea agreement, Beliveau acknowledged that he regularly searched confidential NCIS databases for reports of investigations related to the contractor, Leonard Glenn Francis, chief executive of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA)," the DOJ said in a release.

Francis was arrested in September on charges that he bribed Navy officers into giving him classified and privileged information in exchange for prostitutes and cash.

Beliveau passed to Francis copies of reports about investigations of false billings by GDMA and gave him advice how to respond to, stall and thwart the NCIS probes, the DOJ said.

"This duplicity began while Beliveau was stationed in Singapore and continued for more than a year after Beliveau returned to the NCIS office in Quantico, Va," the DOJ said.

Beliveau is one of five Navy officials and civilian contractors implicated so far in the widening corruption case involving hundreds of millions of dollars in Navy contracts.

In addition to Beliveau and Francis, others charged are U.S. Navy Commanders Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz and Jose Luis Sanchez, and GDMA executive Alex Wisidagama.

Two U.S. admirals were placed on temporary leave and stripped of their access to classified data in November. Vice Admiral Ted "Twig" Branch, the service's top intelligence officer, and Rear Adm. Bruce F. Loveless, the Navy's director of intelligence operations, are being investigated for their ties to a defense contractor and its top executive based in Singapore, reports said.

Among the details Beliveau revealed to Francis about investigations into GDMA's billing practices were identities of cooperating witnesses and their testimony.

When investigators became suspicious, they arrested Francis in September when he came to San Diego from Singapore for a meeting with Navy brass. Beliveau was arrested the same day in Virginia, the DOJ said.

GDMA’s overbilling allegedly cost the Navy at least $7 million in overpayments for "husbanding” services such as food, fuel and other supplies and services to the ships, Beliveau said in his plea agreement.

Francis allegedly provided the agent with envelopes of cash at least five times, along with luxury travel from Virginia to Singapore, the Philippines and Thailand, the plea agreement said.

From 2008 through 2012 while Beliveau was posted in Singapore, Francis allegedly arranged "prostitutes, lavish dinners, entertainment and alcohol at high-end nightclubs. The tab for each of these outings routinely ran into the thousands of dollars," the DOJ said.

According to court records, in April of 2012 Beliveau complained to Francis that “You give whores more money than you give me,” and, “I can be your best friend or worst enemy.”

To avoid getting caught, Beliveau and Francis deleted emails, changed email accounts, used covert email accounts shared by Beliveau and Francis, avoided money transfers through normal banking channels, and used Skype chat and calls to transmit information -- techniques Beliveau learned duirng his law enforcement training.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.