Navy Captain To Face Charges In Ongoing 'Fat Leonard' Scandal

news
Photo via DoD

A Navy captain who once commanded a destroyer squadron attached to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is the latest to face charges in military court in connection with the long-running “Fat Leonard” scandal.


Capt. John F. Steinberger appeared briefly for an arraignment over video conference on Dec. 5 from San Diego, where he is assigned to the Undersea Warfighting Development Center. He faces charges including conspiracy, violation of a lawful order, conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, graft, and bribery, according to a charge sheet.

“Fat Leonard” is the nickname for the massive corruption scandal that has embroiled the Navy’s 7th Fleet. It is named for Leonard Francis, the owner and chief executive of Glenn Defense Marine Asia. Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to presiding over a conspiracy involving “scores” of Navy officials, tens of millions of dollars in fraud and millions of dollars in bribes and gifts in return for lucrative contracts to provide services to ships while in southeast Asia, according to the Department of Justice.

Related: T&P;'s Coverage Of The 'Fat Leonard' Scandal »

According to a charge sheet, Steinberger conspired with Francis from Jan. 22, 2011, through about April 27, 2012, and accepted gifts of “discounted and free hotel rooms, food, beverages, and services of prostitutes” at or near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; Hong Kong; and Perth, Australia, in exchange for providing information about competitors and attempting to influence senior officials in the selection of locations of port visits and the husbanding of Navy vessels to the benefit the out-sized defense contractor.

Steinberger declined to enter a plea Tuesday. He is the fourth naval officer to appear before a military judge in Norfolk in recent months in connection with the scandal after the Justice Department declined to press federal charges. His appearance came just days after a federal judge in San Diego sentenced Cmdr. Bobby Pitts, of Chesapeake, to 18 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to obstructing an investigation while leading the Navy’s Fleet Industrial Supply Command in Singapore, the Associated Press reported Friday.

Related: Navy Seeks Culture Change After ‘Fat Leonard’ Bribery Scandal »

A trial is scheduled for June 7-15. If convicted on all charges, Steinberger could face a maximum sentence of 14 years and six months confinement, dismissal from the Navy, forfeiture of all pay and allowance, and a fine. According to a Navy biography, Steinberger received his commission in July 1987.

As the DOJ wades through the Fat Leonard scandal, it has declined to prosecute 482 people whose names it has subsequently forwarded to the Norfolk-based U.S. Fleet Forces Command, which is handling the Navy’s review. According to officials, the service has reviewed evidence in 318 of those and found that 48 have substantiated allegations of misconduct, most of which relate to accepting gifts from a prohibited source. Another 164 names are pending review.

———

©2017 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Every once in a while, we run across a photo in The Times-Picayune archives that's so striking that it begs a simple question: "What in the name of Momus Alexander Morgus is going on in this New Orleans photograph?" When we do, we've decided, we're going to share it — and to attempt to answer that question.

Read More Show Less
Members of the Syrian Democratic Forces control the monitor of their drone at their advanced position, during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in Nazlat Shahada, a district of Raqqa. (Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)

MUSCAT (Reuters) - The United States should keep arming and aiding the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) following the planned U.S. withdrawal from Syria, provided the group keeps up the pressure on Islamic State, a senior U.S. general told Reuters on Friday.

Read More Show Less

President Donald Trump claims the $6.1 billion from the Defense Department's budget that he will now spend on his border wall was not going to be used for anything "important."

Trump announced on Friday that he was declaring a national emergency, allowing him to tap into military funding to help pay for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Read More Show Less

Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."

"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."

First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.

"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."

Read More Show Less

D-Day veteran James McCue died a hero. About 500 strangers made sure of it.

"It's beautiful," Army Sgt. Pete Rooney said of the crowd that gathered in the cold and stood on the snow Thursday during McCue's burial. "I wish it happened for every veteran's funeral."

Read More Show Less