Judge orders defense contractor in U.S. Navy bribery held without bail

SAN DIEGO Mon Nov 25, 2013 9:04pm EST

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SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - A Singapore-based defense contractor accused of plying U.S. Navy officials with cash, travel, concerts and prostitutes in a bid to win business for his firm was ordered held without bail by a federal judge in San Diego on Monday pending trial.

In reversing a tentative decision last week to grant $1 million bail to contractor Leonard Glenn Francis, U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino cited the seriousness of the crimes he is accused of committing and said he had no strong links to the San Diego area.

"The court feels he is a flight risk. I don't believe the conditions that have been proposed have any real accountability," Sammartino said. "It's not often in this district we have a defendant that has as few ties to the district as Mr. Francis."

Francis, a 49-year-old Malaysian businessman, was arrested in San Diego on September 16. Six Navy officers and a Navy criminal investigator have also been touched by allegations in the probe.

U.S. Navy Commander Michael Misiewicz and Navy criminal investigations special agent John Beliveau were arrested on September 16, the same time as Francis, and charged with conspiracy to commit bribery.

Commander Jose Luis Sanchez was arrested and charged earlier this month with accepting prostitutes, luxury travel and $100,000 in cash from Francis. Three other Navy officers have been suspended or placed on leave but not charged in the case.

Last week the Navy said it had suspended the deputy commander of a unit responsible for port and harbor security as a result of allegations in the widening corruption probe involving Francis, chief executive officer of Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

Glenn Defense Marine Asia is engaged in organizing port visits, providing security, setting up repairs and taking care of other details related to Navy stops at foreign harbors.

In response to the criminal investigation, the Navy has also suspended contracts that potentially were worth hundreds of millions of dollars after having done business with the firm for 25 years.

The most senior officers touched by the probe so far are Vice Admiral Ted Branch, the director of Naval Intelligence, and Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless, the director of Intelligence Operations.

Their access to classified information was suspended earlier this month and they were put on temporary leave due to allegations of "inappropriate conduct." No charges have been filed against them.

(Reporting by Marty Graham; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)

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