Police: ‘Fat Leonard’ escapes house arrest in San Diego

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The military contractor who pleaded guilty to orchestrating the “Fat Leonard” corruption scandal and was under house arrest in San Diego is now on the run after cutting off his GPS monitoring ankle bracelet over the weekend, federal authorities said.

Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Omar Castillo said Leonard Glenn Francis removed the tracker Sunday, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

After police officers found Francis’ home empty, the San Diego Regional Fugitive Task Force and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service began a high-profile search, the newspaper reported.

Castillo said neighbors witnessed U-Haul moving trucks coming to and from Francis’ home in the days before his escape.

Francis was arrested in San Diego in 2013 and pleaded guilty in 2015 to offering $500,000 in bribes to Navy officers. In exchange, the officers passed him classified information and even went so far as redirecting military vessels to ports that were lucrative for his Singapore-based ship servicing company.

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

Francis has been on house arrest since at least 2018 and under the supervision of a federal agency that monitors defendants who are out of custody until sentencing. He was set to be sentenced at the end of month.

Francis’ defense attorney, Devin Burstein, declined to comment to the Union-Tribune on Monday.

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