Military News

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

U.S. Navy Commander Pleads Guilty in International Bribery Scandal

Second U.S. Navy Officer Indicted on Related Bribery Charges

A commander in the U.S. Navy pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges today, admitting that he provided a government contractor with classified ship schedules and other internal U.S. Navy information in exchange for cash, travel and entertainment expenses, as well as the services of prostitutes.  A second U.S. Navy officer was also indicted today on related bribery charges by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of California.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy of the Southern District of California, Director Andrew L. Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and Deputy Inspector General of Investigations James B. Burch of the Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) made the announcement.

“Commander Sanchez sold out his command and country for cash bribes, luxury hotel rooms, and the services of prostitutes,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “After today’s guilty plea, instead of free stays at the Shangri-La hotel, Sanchez is facing many nights in federal prison.  The Department of Justice’s Criminal Division is committed to prosecuting those who abuse positions of public trust for personal enrichment at the expense of national security and the American taxpayers.”

“During the course of the investigation into this criminal enterprise, investigators have compiled voluminous evidence identifying multiple persons of interest, generating numerous leads, and establishing and corroborating connections,” said Director Traver.  “NCIS and our law enforcement partners are committed to seeing this massive fraud and bribery investigation through to its conclusion, so that those responsible are held accountable.”

“This outcome yet again sends the message that corruption will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted,” said Deputy Inspector General of Investigations Burch.  “This is an unfortunate example of dishonorable Naval officers who recklessly risked the safety of our troops by trading classified information for cash, extravagant gifts and prostitutes.  Cases such as these are not motivated by need or other difficult personal circumstances; they are the product of simple greed.  This investigation should serve as a warning that those who compromise the integrity of the United States will face their day of reckoning.  DCIS and our law enforcement partners will pursue these crimes relentlessly.”

Jose Luis Sanchez, 42, an active duty U.S. Navy Officer stationed in San Diego, California, is one of seven defendants charged – and the fifth to plead guilty – in the corruption probe involving Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), a defense contractor based in Singapore that serviced U.S. Navy ships and submarines throughout the Pacific.  Sanchez pleaded guilty to bribery and bribery conspiracy before U.S. Magistrate Judge David H. Bartick of the Southern District of California.  A sentencing hearing was scheduled for March 27, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino.

According to his plea agreement, from April 2008 to April 2013, Sanchez held various logistical positions with the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet in Asia.  Sanchez admitted that, beginning in September 2009, he entered into a bribery scheme with Leonard Glenn Francis, the CEO of GDMA, in which Sanchez provided classified U.S. Navy ship schedules and other sensitive U.S. Navy information to Francis and used his position and influence within the U.S. Navy to benefit GDMA.  In return, Francis gave him things of value such as cash, travel and entertainment expenses, and the services of prostitutes.  Sanchez admitted that this bribery scheme continued until September 2013.  Francis was charged in a complaint unsealed on Nov. 6, 2013, with conspiring to commit bribery; that charge remains pending.

In his plea agreement, Sanchez admitted to seven specific instances in which he provided Francis with classified U.S. Navy ship and submarine schedules.  He also admitted using his position and influence with the U.S. Navy to benefit GDMA and Francis on various occasions.  Further, Sanchez admitted that he tipped Francis off about investigations into GDMA overbillings and briefed Francis on internal U.S. Navy deliberations. 

Sanchez further admitted that, in exchange for this information, Francis provided him with cash, entertainment and stays at high-end hotels.  For example, in May 2012, Francis paid for Sanchez to stay five nights at the Shangri-La, a luxury hotel in Singapore, and, two months later, Francis paid for Sanchez’s travel from Asia to the United States, at a cost of over $7,500.  Additionally, Francis arranged and paid for the services of prostitutes for Sanchez while Sanchez was in Singapore and elsewhere in Asia.

In addition to Sanchez, two other U.S. Navy officials – former NCIS Special Agent John Beliveau and Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug – have pleaded guilty in connection with this investigation.Two former GDMA executives, Alex Wisidagama and Edmond Aruffo, have likewise pleaded guilty.

Also today, an indictment was returned against U.S. Navy Captain-Select Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, 47, of San Diego, California, charging him with a bribery conspiracy and seven counts of bribery.  According to allegations in the indictment, from at least as early as July 2011 until  September 2013, Misiewicz provided classified U.S. Navy ship schedules and other sensitive U.S. Navy information to Francis and used his position and influence within the U.S. Navy to benefit GDMA.  In return Francis allegedly gave him things of value such as cash, travel and entertainment expenses, and the services of prostitutes.

The charges contained in a criminal complaint and indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The ongoing investigation is being conducted by NCIS, DCIS and the Defense Contract Audit Agency. The case is being prosecuted by Director of Procurement Fraud Catherine Votaw and Trial Attorney Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher and Robert S. Huie of the Southern District of California.

The end of an era signals new beginnings for security forces

by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay
432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

1/5/2015 - SILVER FLAG ALPHA, Nevada  -- Ninety-five security forces Airmen from around the country attended the 99th Ground Combat Training Squadron's last Base Security Operations course at the Silver Flag Alpha Range Complex outside of Las Vegas Dec. 6-20, 2014.

The Airmen not only received critical pre-deployment skills during their course, but they unknowingly became part of history, bringing closure to a long line of defenders who came before them, and signaling the end of an era as the 99th GCTS prepares to close its doors in early 2015.

Since its first class in 1983, the primary mission of the 99th GCTS has been to prepare Security Forces Airmen for combat by instructing tactical courses aimed at providing Airmen with mission-specific skills to defend airbases around the globe. On average, the 99th GCTS conducts 10 to 12 courses per year, training approximately 3,000 students annually.

"We continuously update our training to include the newest tactics, techniques, and procedures for different theaters," said Tech. Sgt. Markus Mindoro, 99th Ground Combat Training integrated base defense flight chief. "This environment is perfect for teaching defenders what they need to know for missions they will face downrange."

The range complex where training takes place, known as Silver Flag Alpha, consists of 12 ranges capable of supporting all small arms fire in the Air Force inventory, a Military Operations in Urban Terrain village, a bare base tent city, and a maneuver area.

The last students to attend the 17-day BSO course here were Airmen from the 512th Security Forces Squadron at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, the 403rd SFS at Keesler AFB, Mississippi, and the 434th SFS at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana.  They learned 23 core security forces tasks as part of their pre-deployment training.

Among these tasks were base operations, land navigation, dismounted tactics and patrolling, vehicle convoys and mounted operations, urban operations, static defense, entry control point operations, and basic medical techniques they may be called to use as first responders.

"I've had a blast doing this training so far," said Senior Airman Luis Reyes, Base Security Operations course student. "The instructors make the information fun so that we are actively engaged. The training seems so real with all the simulated explosions and fire fights, which really helps."

Currently, the 99th GCTS is one of eight Security Forces Regional Training Centers that conduct a variety of courses designed to ensure SF Airmen accomplish their mission and training requirements both at home station and while deployed.

"Nothing can replace the job satisfaction you get when you see students return from a deployment, to include hearing from our leadership that our students used what we taught them downrange," Mindoro says. "This is my second time at an RTC, and the satisfaction I get is the same [as the first time]."

In preparing for the 99th GCTS closure, Air Force officials partnered with the U.S. Army, specifically the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas, to create a center that would help align common security tactics, techniques and procedures used by all U.S. armed forces.

For Mindoro, the expected closure strikes close to home.

"I've taught at Silver Flag for three and a half years, and I love it," he says. "I will miss the esprit de corps that my team has built. We have a tight-knit and diverse group of cadre here."

Once the 99th GCTS and the other RTCs shut down, BSO training will be conducted at the new Desert Defender Ground Combat Readiness Training Center at Fort Bliss, Texas. The facility will be one of three RTCs dedicated to training all Air Force security forces Airmen, to include Air Reserve Command or Air National Guard members.

Although the location will change, Mindoro says the training students receive will still be the best the Air Force has to offer.

"I feel that our students have learned a lot and have shown they're able to apply [their knowledge] in the last 17 days at Silver Flag Alpha," he said.  "Every class we've taught, including the last class, has been a significant part of what we've done here."

For Mindoro, the closing of Silver Flag Alpha not only signals an end to a 31-year era but also that of his cadre status. He is expecting to move to a new assignment in early 2015.