December 8, 2022

Venezuelan authorities announced, on Wednesday, that a military contractor known as “Fat Leonard” cut his ankle bracelet and escaped after pleading guilty to a major corruption scandal for the US Navy, in Venezuela.

Leonard Glenn Francis, who was under house arrest in San Diego and weeks away from the sentencing, removed his GPS tracker on September 4, according to the US Infantry Service. The marshal said Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribing Navy officials in a $35 million scandal.

Francis was arrested by Venezuelan authorities, who learned that Interpol was on the run while trying to board a plane bound for another foreign country, according to a spokesman for the US Marshals.

He will remain in Venezuelan custody while US marshals and other federal authorities work out details about his extradition to the United States.

Francis was arrested in 2013. He pleaded guilty to providing $500,000 in bribes to Navy officers, who exchanged classified information with him and rerouted military ships to ports that would be beneficial to his Singapore-based ship service company.

Prosecutors say Francis and his company have charged the US military more than $35 million.

The former military contractor has been under house arrest since at least 2018.

Before his disappearance, US Pretrial Services, the federal agency responsible for monitoring his stay at home, received an alert that his ankle monitor had been tampered with. The agency said that pre-trial services then notified the US Marshals Service about the GPS alert.

Members of the San Diego Fugitive Task Force went to Francis’ residence and, after declaring themselves, entered his home through an open door, the Marshall Service reported. The marshals said officers were unable to locate Francis, but found his GPS device in a severed ankle.

Francis’ neighbors told US guards that several U-Haul trucks had been in and out of the house throughout the week, said Omar Castillo, the deputy superintendent of US Marshals. San Diego Union-Tribune mentioned.

Castillo said it seemed clear Francis had been planning his escape for some time.

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