Venezuela Cons U.S. Fugitive, Returns Him To U.S. In Prisoner Swap: Report
This undated handout picture released on September 21, 2022 by the Instagram account of Interpol Venezuela shows Malaysian fugitive Francis Leonard Glenn, known as Fat Leonard, after his capture in Maiquetia, Venezuela. - A military contractor who pleaded guilty to the worst corruption scandal in the history of the US Navy has been captured in Venezuela after fleeing the United States, the Interpol office in Caracas reported. Francis Leonard Glenn, known as "Fat Leonard," hacked his GPS monitor and escaped from house arrest in California in early September. "The fugitive was arrested at the Simón Bolívar International Airport in Maiquetia when he was about to leave the country," the Interpol office in Caracas said in a post on Instagram.
(Photo by Interpol Venezuela Instagram account / AFP) (Photo by -/Interpol Venezuela Instagram acc/AFP via Getty Images)

“Fat Leonard,” the flamboyant defense contractor who admitted to bribing top Navy brass with booze and hookers in a $35 million scheme and bolted while awaiting sentencing earlier this month, was turned over by Venezuelan officials to the U.S. this week as part of a prisoner swap.

The swap included Fat Leonard, whose real name is Leonard Glenn Francis, along with 10 Americans who had been held prisoner in Venezuela in exchange for the U.S. releasing a close ally of Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro.

Francis, a Malaysian national, was captured at the Caracas airport in Venezuela in September 2022 as he prepared to flee the South American country for Russia, Interpol said. Francis, 58, had been in U.S. custody, but earlier in the month he cut off his ankle monitor while under house arrest in San Diego and slipped out of the country, sparking an international manhunt.

Venezuela told Francis this week that they were going to release him from custody so that he could receive medical treatment, and he believed that he would be completely free by the end of this year, The Washington Post reported. However, the socialist country was lying to him and his lawyer so that he would not legally contest his transfer back to the U.S. as the two countries had reportedly negotiated in secret for months.

On Wednesday, Francis was thrown onto a small jet and flown to the Caribbean island of Canouan, where he was handed over to U.S. officials. He was subsequently transported to Miami and locked up in federal prison. He is expected to be flown back to San Diego in the near future so he can be sentenced in his criminal case.

Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to plying Navy officials with cash, prostitutes, and expensive dinners to help his Singapore-based ship servicing company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, land contracts. Prosecutors claim the company bilked the Navy out of $35 million for servicing ships. Francis was to be sentenced in September 2022, after cooperating with prosecutors for years to secure convictions of dozens of people, including more than 20 Navy officers.

The plea deal called for Francis to repay the government the $35 million, but so far, he has only repaid $5 million.

In 2021, Francis bragged about his lucrative scheme in a Project Brazen podcast series.


“Everybody was in my pocket. I had them rolling around in my palm. I had the Navy by their balls. I turned my torpedo, my guns against them, because they betrayed me,” Francis says in one episode of a nine-part series.

Francis, who owns his own decommissioned U.S. war ship and is reportedly obsessed with American culture, described how he targeted Navy Commander Michael Misiewicz by providing him with prostitutes and infiltrating his inner circle of family and friends.

“They wanted to have the good life that they could not have,” Francis said. “They wanted the fine dining, the fine gifts, hotel rooms, sedans, luxury cars, watches, handbags, fancy meals, alcohol, cigars.”

But the Misiewicz operation was Fat Leonard’s downfall. When the Navy man’s wife, Marcy, confronted her husband about her suspicions he was cheating, he beat her. She reported him to Navy officials, who launched an investigation that uncovered damning emails.

Misiewicz was sentenced to over six years in prison.

Francis has claimed without evidence that senior admirals were protected by the Pentagon.

“Some of the more senior admirals got handled by the Navy because then they can be brushed under the carpet, it’s little more than a slap on the wrist, they call it ‘different spanks for different ranks,'” he said in the podcast series.

Greg Wilson contributed to this report.

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