SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Opening statements began in the trial of five naval officers in what's become internationally known as the Fat Leonard bribery scandal.
Already, 29 people, many of them naval officers, admitted to providing Leonard Glenn Francis - known as Fat Leonard - with classified information and steering navy ships to his repair company, called Glenn Defense Marine Asia.
In exchange they got thousands of dollars in hotel nights and restaurant meals. Some, getting nights from expensive prostitutes flown in just for them.
Those pleading not guilty are Read Adm. Bruce Loveless, Capts. David Newland, James Dolan and David Lausman, and Cmdr. Mario Herrera. Their trial began Wednesday at the Federal Courthouse downtown.
Prosecutors say from 2004 to 2013, Glenn Defense Marine Asia overcharged the U.S. Navy by $35 million for ship repair.
Francis - aka Fat Leonard - has admitted to bribing U.S. Navy officers with more than $500,000 in goods and services and has been cooperating with prosecutors. He's under house arrest and could testify in the trial, though the Associated Press reports he is in poor health.
Deputy U.S. Attorney Michelle Wasserman described a series of emails from those involved in the conspiracy, and pictures of officers with Francis at fancy restaurants from Tokyo to Sydney. In one example, she said Francis laid out $10,000 dollars for fancy dinners for Naval officers, but more than made it back with one ship visit, charging the navy $1.9 million.
Meanwhile, attorney Joseph Dominic Mancano, representing newland said the prosecution's investigation was through a spyglass, adding it relied too much on Francis, who he called corrupt and dishonest. He added Newland never got involved with prostitutes.
The defense attorneys are expected to wrap up their opening statements tomorrow.
After that, the trial will pick up again on Monday.