Navy Commander sentenced to 18 months for 'Fat Leonard' scandal

A U.S. Navy commander was sentenced Dec. 1 to 18 months in prison for his role in a fraud and bribery scheme that cost the government about $35 million.

Cmdr. Bobby Pitts, 48, of Chesapeake, Va., was the latest person to be sentenced in connection with a decade-long scam linked to a Singapore defense contractor known as “Fat Leonard” Francis.

The Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. “Fat Leonard” Francis bribed uniformed officers of the U.S. 7th Fleet in order to over-bill for supplies, a scandal that has cost the U.S. Navy roughly $35 million. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman David Flewellyn)

Francis bribed Navy officials to help him over-bill the Navy for fuel, food, and other services his company provided to ships docked in Asian ports, according to prosecutors. The bribes allegedly ranged from cash and prostitutes to Cuban cigars and Spanish suckling pigs.

Pitts pleaded guilty in 2015 to charges that alleged he tried to obstruct a federal investigation while in charge of the Navy’s Fleet Industrial Supply Command in Singapore.

In handing down the sentence against Pitts, U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino told him that he had “betrayed the Navy and betrayed the country,” prosecutors said in a news release.

Also Read: This is why the ‘Fat Leonard’ scandal is a very serious problem

“Pitts deliberately and methodically undermined government operations and in doing so, diverted his allegiance from his country and colleagues to a foreign defense contractor, and for that, he is paying a high price,” said Adam Braverman, the U.S. Attorney in San Diego.

In addition to his prison sentence, Pitts was also ordered to pay $22,500 in fines and restitution.