Retired Navy officer Ed Aruffo sentenced in ‘Fats Leonard’ scandal


Among the many dozens of U.S. Navy officers charged in reference to the “Fats Leonard” bribery and fraud scandal, Edmond Aruffo is exclusive — for a wide range of causes.

Not like most of the different Navy officers tied to the $35 million fraud scheme, Aruffo was by no means accused of taking bribes of money or prostitutes. And Aruffo’s expenses stemmed not from his time whereas employed by the Navy, however quite when he went to work for the scheme’s mastermind, Malaysian protection contractor Leonard Glenn Francis, at Glenn Protection Marine Asia.

Aruffo, who retired from the Navy in 2007 as a lieutenant commander, was additionally among the many first Navy officers charged within the case, and was the fourth to plead responsible, in July 2014. However his sentencing was repeatedly delayed over the previous eight years — throughout which era he earned a legislation diploma and wrote a e book aimed toward serving to different legislation college students go the California bar examination — as he assisted prosecutors with their case.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Choose Barry “Ted” Moskowitz sentenced Aruffo to carry out 850 hours of group service serving to army veterans. He additionally sentenced him to a few years of supervised launch.

Moskowitz known as the varied prosecutions associated to Francis “most likely essentially the most important case prosecuted in” San Diego federal courtroom and mentioned Aruffo had offered essentially the most important authorities cooperation he’d seen in his 30 or so years as a federal decide and prosecutor.

Aruffo “went off the ethical gird, however got here in from the chilly,” Moskowitz mentioned, including it was pointless to ship Aruffo to jail after he had the case hanging over his head for thus lengthy.

Aruffo’s lawyer, Gary Brucker, had requested that his shopper be sentenced to no extra jail time past the 83 days he spent in custody in 2014. Assistant U.S. Lawyer Valerie Chu had initially requested Aruffo be sentenced to fifteen months in jail and later requested for six months when the decide made clear he’d be giving a lesser sentence due to Aruffo’s cooperation.

Brucker mentioned his shopper met with investigators roughly 40 instances, together with for a number of hours on the evening in September 2013 when federal brokers first knocked on his door.

Aruffo advised the courtroom he was “embarrassed and ashamed” by his actions, and that he owed his best apology to the Navy. He joined when he was 17 years previous, he mentioned, and he labored his manner up over greater than 21 years from a dishwasher on a submarine to a lieutenant commander by the point he retired.

The form of Aruffo’s case had many parallels to Francis’ personal felony case. Each males pleaded responsible years in the past, and each postpone sentencing whereas serving to prosecutors construct their sprawling case in opposition to dozens of Navy officers. However these related paths ended earlier this 12 months.

Whereas Aruffo testified for eight days throughout the one trial within the case, which ended with the convictions of 4 of the 5 Navy officers being tried, Francis by no means took the stand, regardless of prior expectations that he is perhaps the prosecution’s star witness.

Francis fled the nation in September simply weeks earlier than he was to study his personal destiny. Francis now sits in Venezuelan custody, having been captured there whereas allegedly making an attempt to journey to Russia. He has sought asylum in Venezuela, and the U.S. has been given a two-month deadline to hunt his extradition.

Aruffo met Francis, nicknamed for his immense dimension, whereas he was serving because the operations officer of the Blue Ridge, the command ship of the Navy’s large Seventh Fleet within the western Pacific.

In accordance with courtroom testimony and Aruffo’s sentencing memorandum, it was his job to rearrange social occasions for senior officers, together with occasions hosted by Francis.

Such dinners and events have been typically the place Francis charmed officers, recruiting them to his scheme, in keeping with courtroom information within the broader investigation. Francis bribed them for his or her affect inside the Navy and in flip they helped steer profitable contracts to his firm, which offered varied companies to visiting Navy ships in ports he managed. Francis then grossly overcharged for a lot of of these companies.

“Though Mr. Aruffo didn’t obtain money bribes or prostitutes from Mr. Francis like different defendants, he did settle for discounted or free meals and motels,” his lawyer wrote within the sentencing doc, noting that prosecutors didn’t cost Aruffo for receiving these advantages.

That was Aruffo’s “first mistake,” in keeping with his lawyer. His second mistake, the lawyer wrote, occurred in 2009, when Aruffo accepted Francis’ provide to turn out to be GDMA’s county supervisor for Japan.

“He unwittingly joined an ongoing conspiracy to defraud the Navy,” Brucker wrote. “As soon as he realized of the fraud, Mr. Aruffo determined to go away the corporate on his personal accord and did so, simply not quickly sufficient. He ought to have stop instantly, and his failure to take action is his greatest remorse.”

The lawyer wrote that Aruffo acquired a set wage and by no means personally benefited from the fraud.

Moskowitz mentioned he deliberate to order Aruffo to pay restitution — prosecutors requested for greater than $2 million — however the sides couldn’t choose an quantity Wednesday and postpone till a later date a listening to to find out what he ought to pay.

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