Another US Navy commander pleads guilty in Fat Leonard bribery case

In this Oct. 16, 2010, photo, Cmdr. Troy Amundson, right, speaks with members of the Philippine navy before a closing ceremony for Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97). US Navy photo

A former US Navy commander pleaded guilty to bribery charges on Tuesday, becoming the latest official to do so in an unprecedented bribery case that has engulfed the navy.

Troy Amundson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, admitting that he conspired with Singapore-based defense contractor Leonard Francis and others to receive things of value, including entertainment expenses and the services of prostitutes, in exchange for taking official acts for the benefit of GDMA and violating his official duties to the United States Navy.

Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribery and fraud charges, admitting that he presided over a massive, decade-long conspiracy involving “scores” of US Navy officials, tens of millions of dollars in fraud and millions of dollars in bribes and gifts – from cash, prostitutes and luxury travel to Cuban cigars, Kobe beef and Spanish suckling pigs.

According to admissions made as part of his guilty plea, from May 2005 to May 2013, Amundson served as the officer responsible for coordinating the US Navy’s joint military exercises with its foreign navy counterparts. As part of his duties, Amundson was responsible for building and maintaining cooperative relationships with the US Navy’s foreign navy exercise partners.

Amundson admitted that from September 2012 through October 2013, Francis paid for dinner, drinks, transportation, other entertainment expenses, and the services of prostitutes for Amundson and other US Navy officers.

In one instance, Amundson wrote to Francis from a private e-mail account, arranging to provide Francis with internal, proprietary US Navy information: “Handoff?… [M]y [friend], your program is awesome. I [Amundson] am a small dog just trying to get a bone… however I am very happy with my small program. I still need five minutes to pass some data when we can meet up. Cannot print.” That night, Francis arranged the services of several prostitutes from Mongolia for Amundson.

Having passed confidential, proprietary US Navy information to Francis and having taken numerous other actions in favor of GDMA and in violation of his official duties, Amundson was interviewed by federal criminal investigators in October 2013. As part of his plea agreement, Amundson admitted that he deleted all of his private e-mail account correspondence with Francis following his interview with law enforcement agents earlier that same day.

“Amundson deliberately, methodically, and repeatedly traded his public office for entertainment expenses and the services of prostitutes, and in so doing, aligned himself with a foreign defense contractor over his Navy, his colleagues and his country.” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “We are pressing forward in this investigation until we are certain that all involved have been held accountable.”

So far, 20 of 29 defendants charged in the U.S. Navy bribery and fraud scandal have pleaded guilty.

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