March 24, 2023

A military contractor named “Fat Leonard” was arrested in Venezuela after he pleaded guilty in a major U.S. Navy corruption scandal, severed his ankle bracelet and fled, Venezuelan authorities said Wednesday.

Leonard Glenn Francis, who is under house arrest in San Diego, weeks before sentencing, removed his GPS tracker on Sept. 4. US Marshals ServiceFrancis pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribing Navy officials in a $35 million scandal, marshals said.

According to a U.S. Marshals spokesman, Francis was captured by Venezuelan authorities who had informed him that he was being pursued by Interpol while trying to board a plane bound for another foreign country.

He will remain in Venezuelan custody as U.S. Marshals and other federal authorities work out the details of his extradition to the U.S.

Francis was arrested in 2013. He pleaded guilty to paying a bribe of $500,000 to a naval officer in exchange for sharing classified information with him and for diverting the ship to a port that would benefit his ship services company in Singapore.

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

The former military contractor has been under house arrest since at least 2018.

Before his disappearance, the U.S. Pretrial Service, the federal agency that monitors his home confinement, was alerted that his GPS ankle monitor had been tampered with. The pretrial service then notified the U.S. Marshals Service of the GPS alert, the agency said.

Members of the San Diego Fugitive Task Force went to Francis’ residence and entered his home through an unlocked door after declaring themselves, the Marshals Service said. Police were unable to locate Francis, but found his GPS ankle monitor had been severed, law enforcement officials said.

Francis’ neighbors told U.S. marshals that several U-Haul trucks were in and out of the house throughout the week, Deputy U.S. marshal oversight Omar Castillo said. San Diego Union-Tribune report.

Castillo said Francis had apparently been planning to escape for some time.

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