Leonard Francis, better known as “Fat Leonard,” has been arrested in Venezuela after he escaped from home confinement earlier this month while awaiting sentencing in connection to the biggest U.S. military corruption case in the last decade.
Francis, a Malaysian former military contractor, pleaded guilty in 2015 to charges of bribing U.S. Navy officials as part of a $35 million bribery scandal. He was assigned to house arrest in San Diego weeks before he was scheduled to be sentenced but allegedly cut off his GPS monitor and left on Sept. 4.
Francis arrived in Venezuela from Mexico and planned to make a stop in Cuba before going to Russia, Venezuela’s Interpol Chief Carlos Gárate Rondón said in an Instagram post Wednesday.
Rondón said Francis was arrested at Simón Bolívar International Airport in the city of Maiquetía as he was about to leave the country and will be turned over to Venezuela’s judicial authorities to start extradition proceedings.
Francis was central in one of the most significant U.S. military corruption scandals in recent years. He was arrested in 2013 for a decades-long scheme in which he provided top Navy officials with money, cigars, alcohol, sex workers and parties in exchange for bloated supply contracts.
The scandal caused the first active-duty admiral to be convicted of a federal crime. The agreement in exchange for Francis’s guilty plea required him to help prosecutors implicate military officers who were involved in the scheme.
The last of the cases ended in June.
The U.S. Marshals Service did not immediately return a request from The Hill for comment.
Tom Wright, the host of a nine-part podcast on Francis and the scandal, said in a tweet that Francis was traveling to Russia because he would have been an “amazing asset” while it engages in a proxy war with the United States in Ukraine. Wright said Francis told him on a podcast episode that he has photos and videos of Navy officers engaging in orgies.
“This is the way the Navy operates,” Francis told Wright. “It’s kind of normal. The military is always like that, you know that sex drive, sex driven.”