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'Fat Leonard,' mastermind of Navy corruption scandal, flees U.S. house arrest

Military contractor Leonard Glenn Francis had been under house arrest since at least 2018 and was due to be sentenced at the end of the month.

A military contractor known as "Fat Leonard," who pleaded guilty to orchestrating a major U.S. Navy corruption scandal, is on the run after cutting off his GPS monitoring ankle bracelet and fleeing house arrest in San Diego, authorities said.

Leonard Glenn Francis removed his tracker Sunday, prompting a welfare check, Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Omar Castillo said Monday.

Leonard Glenn Francis, chief executive of Glenn Defense Marine Asia of Singapore.
Leonard Glenn Francis, chief executive of Glenn Defense Marine Asia of Singapore.NBC News

Officers arrived at Francis' home to find it empty, triggering a high-profile search, Castillo said. The news was first reported by The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Neighbors told U.S. marshals that several U-Haul trucks had been in and out of the house all week, Castillo said. He said it appeared clear Francis had been planning his escape for some time.

Francis was arrested in 2013 and pleaded guilty in 2015 to offering $500,000 in bribes to Navy officers, who, in exchange, shared classified information with him, in addition to redirecting military vessels to ports that would be beneficial for his Singapore-based ship servicing company.

Prosecutors say Francis and his firm overcharged the U.S. military by more than $35 million.

The former military contractor had been under house arrest since at least 2018 and was to be sentenced later this month.

Castillo said Francis' escape was a pretrial violation, effectively for bail-jumping.

Devin Burstein, the defense attorney appearing to represent Francis, did not immediately respond to an overnight request for comment.