SAN DIEGO - A U.S. Navy commander accepted prostitutes, luxury travel, elaborate dinners and $1,800 steaks from a foreign defense contractor in exchange for classified and internal Navy information, including ship schedules, according to a complaint unsealed Thursday in federal court in San Diego.
U.S. Navy Cmdr. Mario Herrera, 48, was arrested in San Antonio, Texas, and is expected to be brought to San Diego to face charges. He is the 12th U.S. Navy official to be charged in a bribery scandal involving defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis and his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia.
According to the complaint, Herrera received bribes in return for sending U.S. Navy ship schedules and other proprietary information to Francis, sometimes through U.S. Navy Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez, who was among the first officers charged in the case in 2013.
Sanchez pleaded guilty to bribery charges in January 2015 and is awaiting sentencing.
Herrera, Sanchez and other U.S. Navy 7th Fleet officers who were committed to doing the bidding of Francis in exchange for prostitutes and other perks called themselves the "Band of Brothers" and the "Wolf Pack," according to the complaint.
In one email, Sanchez asked Francis to send pictures of prostitutes, saying "the brothers are ready to indulge."
A few days later in another email, Sanchez thanked Francis for the prostitutes and hotel accommodations during a port stop in Manila, Philippines, that read: "A warm thank you from the brotherhood ... we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and had a great time," the complaint states.
The complaint also alleges that Herrera made recommendations within the Navy to benefit Francis' company GDMA, including on several occasions manipulating the movement of U.S. Navy ships and diverting them to ports financially lucrative to Francis.
GDMA, a multinational corporation and longtime government contractor based in Singapore, provided hundreds of millions of dollars of "husbanding" services for the U.S. Navy in at least a dozen countries throughout the Pacific.
"Husbanding" involves supplying food, water, fuel, tugboats and fenders, security, transportation, trash and liquid waste removal, and other goods and services to ships and submarines in foreign ports.
So far, a total of 17 individual defendants have been charged in connection with the GDMA corruption and fraud investigation. Ten have pleaded guilty.
Five GDMA executives have also been charged in the case. Three of them, including Francis, have pleaded guilty.