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Third senior Navy official arrested in bribery, prostitution scandal

A third senior U.S. Navy official was arrested Wednesday and charged with accepting prostitutes, luxury travel and cash from a foreign defense contractor in exchange for classified and internal Navy information, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California announced. 

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez, 41, was arrested in Tampa, Fla., Wednesday.

He is accused of accepting prostitutes, $100,000 cash and other bribes from Leonard Francis — a Malaysian contractor known in military circles simply as "Fat Leonard." 

In turn, prosecutors said Sanchez gave sensitive U.S. Navy information to Francis' Singapore-based company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia or GDMA, which helped it overcharge the Pentagon for servicing Navy ships in the Pacific. 

This arrest is the latest development in a burgeoning Navy scandal that could reveal extensive national security violations. 

Two other senior Navy officials – Cmdr. Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, 46, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau II, 44 – have been charged separately in connection with bribery allegations. 

“According to the allegations in this case, a number of officials were willing to sacrifice their integrity and millions of taxpayer dollars for personal gratification,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said.

Authorities said they would seek to have Sanchez moved to San Diego to face the charges.  

Court records allege Sanchez regularly sent Francis internal Navy discussions about GDMA, including legal opinions, and made recommendations in GDMA’s favor about port visits and Navy personnel assignments. Misiewicz is also accused of providing sensitive Navy information to Francis.

Beliveau is charged with sending Francis reports of investigations by NCIS into possible fraud committed by GDMA, among other sensitive documents. 

Beliveau, Misiewicz  and Francis, 49, were all arrested — in Virginia, Colorado and San Diego, respectively — on Sept. 16. They have all pleaded not guilty.

The illicit exchange of information began in 2009. Charging documents show one 2009 email exchange in which Sanchez and Francis discussed a trip Sanchez planned to take to Kuala Lumpur with Navy friends he described as his "Wolf Pack."

The two discussed the number of rooms the group needed, and Sanchez asked for pictures of prostitutes for "motivation." Francis told Sanchez he would take care of it. 

A few days later, Sanchez sent a Facebook message to Francis saying, "Yummy ... daddy like," according to the complaint. 

In turn, Francis later asked Sanchez over email to help "swing" business his way regarding a U.S. Navy ship's need to refuel at a port in Thailand. 

Prosecutors charge GDMA overcharged the Navy millions of dollars for fuel, food and other services it provided. 

Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman said GDMA executives profitted from trading "on the influence that they illegally bought."

"Day by day, this massive Navy fraud and bribery investigation continues to widen, and as the charges announced today show, we will follow the evidence wherever it takes us,” Raman added. 

NBC News' Courtney Kube and The Associated Press contributed to this report