Active-Duty U.S. Navy Commander Pleads Guilty to Conspiring With Foreign Defense Contractor to Defraud the U.S. Navy

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An active-duty U.S. Navy commander pleaded guilty today in connection with his efforts to obstruct a federal criminal investigation of the owner and chief executive officer of a multi-national defense contracting firm headquartered in Singapore. 

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson of the Southern District of California, Director Dermot O’Reilly of the Department of Defense’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and Director Andrew Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) made the announcement. 

Bobby Pitts, 48, of Chesapeake, Va., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. in connection with the NCIS’s investigation of Leonard Glenn Francis, the owner and CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA).  Pitts is set to be sentenced on December 1, by U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal of the Southern District of California, who accepted his plea today. 

According to admissions made as part of his plea agreement, from August 2009 to May 2011, Pitts served as the officer in charge of the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Industrial Supply Command (FISC) in Singapore.  As part of his duties, Pitts learned that NCIS and several civilian employees of the U.S. Navy were investigating whether Francis was over-billing the U.S. Navy on ship husbanding contracts.  Pitts had access to internal U.S. Navy documents pertaining to investigative steps that the U.S. Navy was considering and admitted that he shared this information with Francis, with the intent to impede and obstruct the U.S. Navy’s oversight of its contracts with GDMA.  On Nov. 23, 2010, for example, Pitts forwarded to a representative of GDMA an internal U.S. Navy email discussing FISC’s intention to contact officials with the Royal Thai Navy to determine whether GDMA had been billing the U.S. Navy for services in fact rendered by the Thai government. 

In pleading guilty, Pitts admitted, among other things, to working with Francis and other foreign-defense-contractor personnel to help them cover up GDMA’s overcharging practices with respect to providing protection to U.S. Navy forces deployed in the Western Pacific.

So far, 18 of 27 defendants charged in the U.S. Navy bribery and fraud scandal have pleaded guilty.  All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Brian R. Young of the Fraud Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher and Patrick Hovakimian of the Southern District of California. 

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