US fugitive known as ‘Fat Leonard’ arrested in Venezuela after weeks on the run

US fugitive known as ‘Fat Leonard’ arrested in Venezuela after weeks on the run

A military contractor known as “Fat Leonard” who cut off his anklet and fled after pleading guilty in a major Navy corruption scandal has been detained in Venezuela, authorities said Wednesday.

Leonard Glenn Francis, who was under house arrest in San Diego and weeks away from being sentenced, removed his GPS tracker on September 4, according to the US Marshals Service. Francis had pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribing police officers. Marina in a $35 million scandal.

Francis was captured by Venezuelan authorities, who had been told by Interpol that he was on the run, as he tried to board a plane bound for another country, a sheriff’s spokesman said.

Carlos Garate Rondón, director general of Interpol Venezuela, said in a statement that Francisco had entered the country from Mexico with a stopover in Cuba. His final destination was Russia, Rondon said.

He was detained at Simón Bolívar International Airport and will remain in Venezuelan custody while US Marshals and other federal authorities work out the details of his extradition to the US.

Francis was arrested in 2013. He pleaded guilty to offering $500,000 in bribes to Navy officials, who in return shared classified information with him and redirected military vessels to ports that would be beneficial to his Singapore-based ship servicing company.

Prosecutors say Francis and his firm collected more than $35 million from the US military.

He had been under house arrest since at least 2018.

Before he disappeared, US Pretrial Services, the federal agency in charge of monitoring his home confinement, received an alert that his GPS ankle monitor was being tampered with. Pretrial Services notified the Marshals Service of the alert, the agency said.

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Members of the San Diego Fugitive Task Force went to Francis’s residence and, after announcing themselves, entered his home through an open door, the Marshals Service said. Officers were unable to find Francis, but did find his GPS monitor on his ankle, which had been severed, sheriffs said.

Francis’s neighbors told marshals that multiple U-Haul trucks had been in and out of the house throughout the week, said Omar Castillo, a supervising deputy U.S. marshal, The San Diego Union Tribune reported.

It seemed clear that Francis had been planning his escape for some time, Castillo said.

Stella’s team contributed.

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About the Author: Pierre Cohen

A person who has expertise in politics and writes articles to fill his spare time as a hobby.