Feds Scour California for Crooked Contractor ‘Fat Leonard’

Fat Leonard

Corrupt defense contractor Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis, 57, has vanished from his Carmel Valley, California, home, only weeks before he was slated to be sentenced for his role in a $35 million scheme to defraud the US taxpayer. Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.

Composite by Coffee or Die Magazine.

“Fat Leonard” has vanished.

Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis, the portly and corrupt military contractor who bilked the US taxpayer out of $35 million and embroiled a generation of Navy leaders in an ongoing graft scandal, absconded from home confinement in California, according to the US Marshals Service.

Omar Castillo, the supervisory deputy US Marshal in San Diego, told Coffee or Die Magazine that Francis, 57, removed his Global Positioning System tracker around 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 4. His federal Pretrial Services caseworker dialed the San Diego Police Department to perform a welfare check, but the cops couldn’t find Francis and the other members of his Carmel Valley household — an adult woman and two kids.

That’s triggered an ongoing manhunt by Castillo’s Fugitive Task Force. Agents suspect the Malaysian man is trying to flee overseas, but Castillo said there’s no indication he’s succeeded in exiting the US.

“We have a few leads that we can’t disclose yet, but he seems to have been planning this out,” said Castillo, who also serves as a commissioned officer in the US Coast Guard Reserves.

Fat Leonard fugitive

Blue Ridge, the flagship of the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, enters Hong Kong for a port visit on March 15, 2012. The vessel often was at the center of a public corruption scandal tied to defense contractor Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis. US Navy photo.

US Navy photo.

Castillo said Francis’ neighbors reported that there had been a stream of U-Haul trucks removing Fat Leonard’s possessions in the days prior to his disappearance, but no one reported it.

“This guy will not be hard to miss,” Castillo said. “He’s been pretty much in a wheelchair for a while now. If anyone sees him, they should contact the US Marshals Service in your area or your local police.”

Pretrial Services officials in San Diego did not return Coffee or Die messages seeking comment.

Arrested in a federal undercover sting operation in 2013, Francis pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud charges two years later. He was slated to be sentenced Sept. 22 in San Diego and faced up to 25 years behind bars.

“I’m sorry, but I have no comment at this time,” wrote Francis’ San Diego attorney, Devin Burstein, in an email to Coffee or Die.

Fat Leonard fugitive

Federal agents say Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis, 57, has fled his Carmel Valley, California, residence where he’d been on home confinement for four years. The fugitive’s flight came nearly nine years after his Sept. 16, 2013, arrest in San Diego during a federal sting operation, with his description here noted in his arrest warrant. US Department of Justice image.

US Department of Justice image.

Although he was facing up to 25 years behind bars, Francis wasn’t likely to do the full stint in a federal penitentiary.

That’s because he’s been the government’s star witness in a string of more than 30 high-profile prosecutions against senior commissioned and enlisted non-commissioned officers and civilian officials, including Rear Adm. Robert Gilbeau; Capt. Daniel Dusek, the ex- commander of the amphibious warship Bonhomme Richard; and Capt. David A. “Too Tall” Lausman, the former skipper of the aircraft carrier George Washington and the flagship of the US 7th Fleet, Blue Ridge.

On house confinement since 2018 due to reported health problems, the Malaysian tycoon continued dishing to juries about how he plied senior sailors with prostitutes, cash bribes, champagne feasts, and luxury resort accommodations across the Pacific Rim in exchange for lucrative ship husbanding contracts when the vessels pulled into the “pearl ports” controlled by his Singapore-based company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

Fat Leonard

Blue Ridge, the flagship of the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, anchors off the coast of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, on May 1, 2012. The vessel often was at the center of the public corruption scandal involving defense contractor Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis. US Navy photo.

US Navy photo.

Francis also helped supply info tied to US Navy investigations of more than 400 officers and their sailors, often targeting leaders who avoided federal prosecution due to the statute of limitations expiring on their alleged crimes.

Authorities don’t believe Francis has been killed or kidnapped by any of the senior leaders he helped put away. Castillo said agents aren’t even sure about his motives for fleeing.

“We have no idea what the motive could be,” he told Coffee or Die. “Maybe it’s to get one up on the US government one more time, but we don’t know.”

Read Next: Go Inside This Daring ‘Outside the Box’ Gulf of Mexico Rescue

Carl came to Coffee or Die Magazine after stints at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
More from Coffee or Die Magazine
Airmen assigned to the MacDill Air Force Base are allowed to evacuate as Hurricane Ian approaches, but some may have to pay for their own evacuation.
The combined Chinese-Russian surface action group intercepted by US forces earlier in September in the Bering Sea was far more powerful than initially reported.
Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency reported that Russian commanders authorized rear detachments to open fire on soldiers who abandon their battlefield positions.
A Houston, Texas, couple was stunned to find that a gun case they bought from an online surplus retailer held a dozen M16-style rifles.
The defense team is trying to punch holes in the prosecution’s theory about what caused the Bonhomme Richard blaze.
The Chinese-Russian surface action group was sailing north of Kiska Island.
Larry Nemec mysteriously disappeared off his boat near Galveston, Texas.
NCIS claims Seaman Recruit Ryan Mays sparked the $1.2 billion Bonhomme Richard blaze.
TacGas, a media production company for the tactical and entertainment industries, made its mark producing and capturing hyperrealistic and supremely accurate military simulations for its clients’ marketing and training needs.
Now that active-duty Army recruits can select their first duty stations, Alaska’s bases and Fort Carson, Colorado, have come out on top. Midwestern bases and Bragg — not so much.