Congress members investigating ‘collective failure’ of businesses to observe ‘Fats Leonard’ earlier than escape


Republican members of a congressional oversight committee are urgent the Division of Justice for solutions about how Navy bribery scandal mastermind Leonard Glenn Francis was capable of escape final month regardless of being monitored by the U.S. authorities.

Greater than a dozen Republicans on the Home Committee on Oversight and Reform despatched a letter Wednesday to Legal professional Basic Merrick Garland informing him they’re “investigating the collective failure by the Division of Justice and U.S. Probation and Pretrial Providers to adequately monitor” the previous Malaysian protection contractor often called “Fats Leonard” earlier than he fled San Diego final month from dwelling confinement.

The letter seeks a briefing from Division of Justice staffers by the center of subsequent week and requests a slew of paperwork by Oct. 26. The committee members are in search of all paperwork and communications about Francis amongst DOJ staff; between DOJ staff and state or native regulation enforcement businesses; and between DOJ staff and U.S. Probation and Pretrial Providers.

The lawmakers are in search of to “decide how this infamous prison duped the justice system and was left to his personal units to flee overseas,” the letter says.

Francis, the central determine within the worst bribery and corruption scandal in U.S. Navy historical past, fled the nation final month, simply weeks earlier than his scheduled sentencing. Interpol brokers in Venezuela arrested him about two weeks later, saying he had deliberate to journey to Russia. Francis has since sought asylum within the South American nation.

The Republican lawmakers additionally wrote of their letter that they search details about “what efforts are underway to make sure his return with minimal concessions to the Venezuelan regime.”

Arrested in 2013 throughout a sting operation in a San Diego resort, Francis pleaded responsible in 2015 to bribing Navy officers and defrauding the U.S. of no less than $35 million. He remained in pre-sentence custody for years whereas cooperating with the federal government’s investigation however was launched on a medical furlough someday round early 2018.

Match with a GPS ankle monitor, he remained underneath home arrest for greater than 4 years till happening the lam, first crossing the border into Mexico after which flying to Venezuela by means of Cuba. However courtroom information, interviews with two of his former safety guards and particulars about his escape have raised questions on how strictly he was monitored by the guards he was paying underneath a court-approved deal.

In keeping with a lawsuit over unpaid hire filed final month in San Diego Superior Court docket, Francis and his household had been residing in a multimillion-dollar dwelling earlier than his escape. The house within the gated Collins Ranch neighborhood in San Diego’s Torrey Highlands neighborhood price Francis $7,000 monthly to hire, in response to the go well with.

Leonard Glenn Francis, often called “Fats Leonard,” was residing at this dwelling (middle) within the gated Collins Ranch neighborhood earlier than fleeing final month to Venezuela.

(John Gastaldo/For The San Diego Union-Tribune)

That was reportedly the third dwelling the place Francis lived throughout his medical furlough. Safety guards who labored for Francis at his first residence advised the Union-Tribune final month that he rapidly started breaking the foundations of his dwelling confinement.

A type of guards, Anthony Galvan, stated he labored each day 12-hour shifts however by no means noticed one other guard on the dwelling — though Francis was presupposed to be underneath 24-hour watch.

A lady who labored on administrative duties for Francis within the month or so earlier than he fled the nation advised the Washington Submit she by no means met the safety guards who had been presupposed to be monitoring him.

“The flight threat introduced by Francis’s at-home confinement ought to have been obvious to all concerned in his case,” the lawmakers wrote. “It’s astonishing that DOJ and the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Providers would permit this man the liberty to supervise his personal luxurious confinement.”

A Division of Justice spokesperson confirmed the company had acquired the lawmakers’ letter and declined to elaborate additional Thursday. A spokesperson for the U.S. Legal professional’s Workplace in San Diego didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Pretrial Providers, the federal company that was in control of monitoring Francis, has repeatedly declined to touch upon his escape, and officers from the U.S. Legal professional’s Workplace have refused to reply questions concerning the circumstances of his home arrest and flight from justice. Many courtroom information coping with his dwelling confinement stay sealed or redacted to defend details about his medical situations.

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