Former Navy officer pleads guilty in wide-spanning scandal

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A retired Naval officer admitted in federal court in San Diego to sending a Malaysian defense contractor classified ship schedules for the Navy’s Seventh Fleet in exchange for more than $45,000 in bribes, including stays at luxury hotels.

Retired Chief Warrant Officer Robert Gorsuch also admitted Tuesday in court that he set up a secret email account to help the ship servicing business of Leonard Francis.

Prosecutors said the firm, Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia and its owner, known by his nickname “Fat Leonard,” bribed Navy officers with fancy gifts, trips and prostitutes to provide classified information in order to beat competitors and overcharge for services.

The scheme cost the Navy some $35 million.

“Gorsuch essentially sold his honor for a few nights at the Shangri-La,” Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said.

Gorsuch and his lawyer could not be immediately reached for comment.

The case has resulted in federal criminal charges against 34 Navy officials, defense contractors, including Francis, and the Glenn Defense Marine Asia corporation. So far, 26 of those have pleaded guilty.

Gorsuch was one of nine members of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet indicted in March 2017 for playing a role in one of the Navy’s worst corruption scandals.

The eight other Seventh Fleet defendants, who are accused of trading military secrets and substantial influence for sex parties with prostitutes, extravagant dinners and luxury travel, are scheduled for trial on Nov. 1.

They include U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless; Capts. David Newland, James Dolan, Donald Hornbeck and David Lausman; Col. Enrico DeGuzman; Lt. Commander Stephen Shedd; and Cmdr. Mario Herrera.

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