Fat Leonard, Who Filmed Orgies Involving Senior Navy Admirals, Extradited To The US By Venezuela

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Dec 21, 2023 - 10:20 PM

As part of a prisoner exchange in which Joe Biden granted clemency to a prominent moneyman for President Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela released 10 detained Americans as well as the man at the center of historic Navy bribery scandal: Fat Leonard, a military contractor known for organizing and filming orgies involving senior U.S. Navy admirals, is on his way back to San Diego to face sentencing for corruption over a year after he fled to Venezuela. It's one of the U.S.’s worst ever national security breaches.

Fat Leonard", mastermind of biggest ever US military bribery scheme, back in US custody - National & International News

The White House confirmed the deal had taken place after days of mounting speculation amid fears that a fragile agreement could break down or change at any moment.

As the WSJ notes, the completed trade marked a breakthrough in the Biden administration’s rapprochement efforts with Caracas, which has become a key source of marginal oil for Biden in the critical 2024 election year, as well as one of the biggest hostage deals the US has carried out with a hostile foreign government.

Leonard Francis, a Malaysian businessman given his nickname for his 6-foot-2, 350-pound frame, had fled the U.S. last year just weeks before he was scheduled to be sentenced for his role in an extensive corruption scheme.

Fat Leonard and his private army on his private warship.

The “Fat Leonard” scandal cost the U.S. tens of millions of dollars and the resulting federal investigation gutted the Navy’s leadership ranks in the Asia-Pacific region. Francis had pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribing dozens of Naval officers with lavish dinners, orgies and cash, and cooperated with prosecutors for several years, to mixed results.

Fat Leonard, who according to some "effectively controlled the U.S. Navy’s Pacific fleet", had spent millions of dollars bribing officers of the Seventh Fleet and in exchange those officers made sure the U.S. Navy’s most powerful ships sailed into ports controlled by Francis’ company. When the ships docked, Fat Leonard overcharged for basic services such as fuel, food and sewage.

U.S. federal agents arrested Fat Leonard and Navy officers implicated in his scam, and the Justice Department spent years digging through a treasure trove of emails, receipts and phone records. On March 14, 2017, the department handed down an indictment that charged eight more Navy officers — including Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless — with taking part in the conspiracy.

The 79-page indictment was an "incredible document". The word prostitutes appears 28 times and the charges include a detailed account of Fat Leonard’s bribes. The Malaysian kingpin ran “a rotating carousel of prostitutes,” threw wild sex parties and even hosted an orgy that involved memorabilia of famed U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, according to the indictment.

According to the indictment, “Francis hosted and paid for a lavish party and the services of prostitutes in the MacArthur Suite of the Manila Hotel, attended by [some of the Cool Kids], among others. During the party, historical memorabilia related to Gen. Douglas MacArthur were used by the participants in sexual acts.

That room in the Manila Hotel was the room MacArthur used to command operations in the Pacific Theater during World War II. It’s got his desk, his chair and various artifacts that once belonged the famed general. Yes, including one of his famous corncob pipes. These Navy officers allegedly fucked prostitutes all over that room and brought MacArthur’s former possessions into the mix.

That’s not all. In late May 2008, Fat Leonard booked the Presidential Suite at the Makati Shangri-La in Manila.

“In this venue,” the indictment stated. “Francis hosted a raging multi-day party, with a rotating carousel of prostitute in attendance, during which the conspirators drank all of the Dom Perignon available at the Shangri-La. Room and alcohol charges born by Francis exceeded $50,000”

Yes, the party got so crazy, that the Lion King’s Harem drank every single bottle of Dom Perignon in the entire hotel. A few days later, one of the participants emailed Fat Leonard to tell him, “I finally detoxed myself from Manila. That was a crazy couple of days. It’s been awhile since I’ve done 36 hours of straight drinking!!!”

In a podcast published in 2021, Francis claimed he kept secretly recorded videotapes of sex between Navy officers and sex workers he'd paid for. "I'm not making porn," Francis said on the podcast. "It's always great to see people when they're drunk, what they're capable of doing."

A marquee trial of Navy officers allegedly corrupted by Francis initially resulted in felony convictions last year, but prosecutors ultimately downgraded the charges to misdemeanors in part over Francis’ actions that had undermined the case. Francis ultimately escaped from house arrest in San Diego in 2016, and was stopped in Venezuela a few weeks later while he was en route to Russia.

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Senior administration officials described the swap as 10 Americans and a fugitive from justice in exchange for one prisoner in US custody. The deal underscores a willingness by US officials to make uncomfortable trade-offs for the freedom of American citizens held abroad.

The Biden administration swapped one priority national-security case for another, in allowing someone accused of illegally moving hundreds of millions of dollars for the Venezuelan regime to walk free in exchange for a fugitive Malaysian businessman who had corrupted the U.S. Navy in the Pacific.

"Reuniting wrongfully detained Americans with their loved ones has been a priority for my Administration since day one. As is the return to the United States of fugitives from justice,” Biden said in a statement.

The decision to release Alex Saab, who had been facing trial for money laundering in Miami federal court, senior U.S. administration officials said, constituted a difficult compromise that they also said could help coax Maduro into restoring democracy in the troubled South American nation. “It’s a solid foundation for us to build upon,” one U.S. official said.

Saab, a Colombian-born businessman and financier for Maduro, had been in U.S. custody since October 2021. The U.S. had previously undertaken a 16-month battle to get him extradited from the West African island nation of Cape Verde.

Critics of the Biden administration’s push to secure such deals contend that they play into the hands of authoritarian leaders and encourage rogue states to take more hostages. The Justice Department has often been opposed to prisoner-exchange deals by the U.S. that appear to cut against its efforts, though the White House ultimately makes any call on such deals.

Wednesday’s deal included the release of six Americans deemed by the State Department to be wrongfully detained in Venezuela, a designation reflecting that the U.S. considers them to have been held at least in part because of their American passports, as well as four other U.S. citizens for whom Washington had not reached that conclusion.

U.S. officials said the released Americans included Joseph Cristella, Eyvin Hernandez, Jerrel Kenemore, and Savoi Wright, all of whom were considered by the State Department to have been wrongfully detained in Venezuela. The officials didn’t name the others in the group, citing privacy concerns. Among the Americans known to be detained in Venezuela are former Green Berets Luke Denman and Airan Berry, who have been serving 20-year prison sentences in Caracas for joining a ragtag group of Venezuelan dissidents in a botched 2020 invasion that aimed to topple Maduro.

In addition to Wednesday’s prisoner exchange, the U.S. said it negotiated other concessions from Venezuela. They included the release of 20 Venezuelan political prisoners and the lifting of arrest warrants recently issued by Maduro against aides of Maria Corina Machado, the opposition’s likely candidate in presidential elections that are supposed to be held in 2024.