Wednesday, November 30, 2022

From ‘untrustworthy’ paperwork to unpaid lease, new authorized claims mount in wake of ‘Fats Leonard’ escape

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Leonard Glenn Francis, the Malaysian protection contractor higher often known as “Fats Leonard,” was simply weeks away from sentencing final month when he fled home arrest in San Diego, however his escape and eventual arrest in Venezuela have impacted extra than simply his personal prison case.

Within the weeks since, the brash act of the person on the heart of the Navy’s largest ever corruptions scandal has additionally additional muddled the case of 4 former naval officers who’re combating bribery convictions tied to Francis’ large fraud scheme. And it has dragged a Nationwide Metropolis paralegal right into a lawsuit over unpaid lease.

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Earlier than Francis’ flight from justice, the instances in opposition to him and the Navy officers he bribed appeared as if they might principally wrap up by the tip of the 12 months. However with Francis now caught in Venezuela — the place he has requested asylum and will change into a pawn in tense relations between the U.S. and the South American nation — attorneys for the 4 not too long ago convicted officers have ramped up their arguments for a brand new trial. The authorized saga that was winding down seems removed from completed.

On Wednesday, attorneys for the 4 Navy officers convicted in June argued their purchasers must be granted a brand new trial based mostly on Francis’ escape — additional proof that he’s “untrustworthy.”

The attorneys for the defendants — former Capts. David Newland, James Dolan and David Lausman, and former Cmdr. Mario Herrera — made the argument as a part of a protracted string of motions and responses which have been filed within the case.

The problem on the coronary heart of these motions is whether or not proof reminiscent of receipts and enterprise data that have been used as proof within the trial must be trusted if Francis, who closely cooperated with prosecutors on the case, was the one one who licensed their authenticity.

“By now it’s apparent that Mr. Francis isn’t reliable sufficient to certify any data, not to mention a big amount of the federal government’s reveals,” the protection attorneys wrote. “It can’t be significantly disputed that Mr. Francis had a robust motive to falsify data to curry favor with the federal government, that he has no ethical scruples and solely contempt for this Courtroom, and that as a ‘supply’ of paperwork, he’s untrustworthy.”

Leonard Francis was arrested in Caracas, Venezuela on Sept. 20.

Leonard Francis was arrested in Caracas, Venezuela, on Sept. 20. He has since requested asylum within the nation.

(OCN interpol Caracas)

At a listening to Friday in San Diego federal courtroom, U.S. District Decide Janis Sammartino denied the movement — however solely as a procedural matter, saying it was improperly filed as a part of one other longstanding movement. She invited the attorneys to file a brand new movement, and he or she would then determine on the deserves of the problem.

The protection attorneys indicated Friday that such a movement would comprise at the least three separate strains of arguments — all of which have been raised to some extent up to now. The “omnibus movement” would handle the perceived untrustworthiness of data licensed by Francis; misconduct by the lead prosecutor within the trial, who withheld proof from the protection; and a difficulty surrounding a federal agent who performed a central position within the investigation and was a key witness at trial, however who made inaccurate statements in a sworn arrest warrant affidavit in the same Navy bribery case.

The protection arguments on these points haven’t had a lot traction up to now. Sammartino already concluded Assistant U.S. Lawyer Mark Pletcher dedicated “flagrant misconduct” by withholding data from protection legal professionals, however dominated the conduct was not sufficient to dismiss the case. And he or she has already dominated that the proof licensed by Francis was admissible.

On Friday, she hinted she was leaning in the identical path, saying she “stays persuaded” the paperwork that prosecutors used in the course of the 16-week trial have been “correctly authenticated.”

It’s unclear if repackaging the motions, or together with new arguments surrounding Francis’ escape, would persuade her in any other case.

Prosecutors on Friday didn’t handle the substance of the arguments made in the course of the week within the protection movement, however indicated they might search to seal most data in regards to the federal agent as a result of the case by which he made the incorrect statements continues to be pending in federal courtroom in Washington, D.C.

What was clear to Sammartino Friday was that such proceedings have been going to closely delay any remaining decision to the case, and he or she pushed the sentencings for the 4 former officers from December to Could, on the earliest.

Newland, Dolan, Lausman and Herrera have been discovered responsible by a jury in June of conspiracy to commit bribery, accepting bribes and wire fraud, whereas Lausman was additionally convicted of obstruction of justice. The jury deadlocked on costs in opposition to a fifth defendant, former Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, and prosecutors dismissed his costs final month.

Courtroom sketch of opening statements in bribery trial

Assistant U.S. Lawyer Michelle Wasserman, left, delivers opening statements within the trial in opposition to 5 former naval officers, overseen by U.S. District Decide Janis Sammartino, on March 2, 2022. The remainder, proven from left are defendant David Lausman, protection legal professional Robert Boyce, defendant David Newland, defendant James Dolan, defendant Bruce Loveless, protection legal professional Michael Crowley, and defendant Mario Herrera.

(Krentz Johnson)

The federal government contended that Francis bribed the officers with fancy meals, resort stays, presents and the companies of prostitutes. In return they gave Francis categorised details about ship actions and inside deliberations about port visits, they usually steered ships to ports throughout Asia the place his firm, Glenn Protection Marine Asia, managed ship companies.

As soon as in his ports, he wildly overcharged the federal government, finally admitting to defrauding taxpayers out of at the least $35 million. The bribery and overbilling rip-off has amounted to the worst corruption scandal in Navy historical past.

Federal authorities arrested Francis in 2013 in a San Diego resort room as a part of a sting operation. He cooperated with investigators, pleading responsible in 2015. He continued to cooperate each whereas he remained jailed and after he was launched on medical furlough in 2018.

He remained on home arrest in San Diego till Sept. 4, when he minimize off his GPS ankle monitor and fled the nation — simply weeks earlier than sentencing, as the large prosecution of dozens of individuals got here to an in depth. Authorities have stated he went to Mexico, then flew to Cuba and Venezuela en path to his deliberate remaining vacation spot of Russia. Interpol brokers in Venezuela captured him Sept. 20, and Francis has since requested asylum within the South American nation.

As a part of their argument that Francis is an untrustworthy supply to confirm paperwork used as proof, the protection attorneys for the 4 officers pointed to his current flight from justice, in addition to particulars about his life below medical furlough and home arrest reported final week by the Washington Put up.

Pretrial Providers, a federal company, was answerable for monitoring Francis, who has suffered from a litany of well being points. However he was required to pay for his personal around-the-clock safety by way of a court-approved deal.

Official details about these safety guards and most of the particulars about his home arrest have been saved secret. However a few of these particulars have begun to emerge.

In a lawsuit filed final month in San Diego Superior Courtroom, the proprietor of the multi-million greenback mansion the place Francis lived earlier than his escape recognized two individuals who had signed the lease for the house. The primary was certainly one of Francis’ sons, whereas the opposite was a girl named Sandra Jenney. A doc offered by certainly one of Francis’ former safety guards recognized Jenney as a paralegal — certainly one of three who have been licensed to go to him as of 2018.

The lawsuit, which seeks reimbursement for unpaid lease and damages, claims Jenney and Francis’ son Leonardo signed a 30-month lease for the house, situated within the gated Collins Ranch neighborhood, in December 2020. The swimsuit claims the lease set a value of $7,000 monthly — which quantities to $210,000 over the lifetime of the settlement.

The swimsuit seeks unpaid lease, together with for September, when fee was due simply days earlier than Francis fled, and reimbursement for “important injury to the property over and above regular put on and tear.”

It’s unclear who Jenney labored for as a paralegal. She declined to remark when contacted at her Nationwide Metropolis dwelling shortly after Francis’ escape. She referred a Union-Tribune reporter to her legal professional, who declined final week to reply questions on Jenney’s work associated to Francis’ case.

A girl who labored on administrative duties for Francis within the month or so earlier than he fled the nation instructed the Put up she by no means met the safety guards who have been speculated to be monitoring Francis and making certain he adopted the medical furlough guidelines set out by the courtroom.

Nonetheless, in interviews this week, two of Francis’s first safety guards, who labored for him in 2018 and 2019, make clear the pampered way of life Francis led nearly instantly upon being launched to deal with arrest.

Leonard Francis lived in this room upon first being granted medical furlough in 2018.

Leonard Francis lived on this studio residence upon first being granted medical furlough in 2018, based on a report by federal investigators, included in a courtroom submitting. He later moved to a mansion in Torrey Highlands.

(U.S. District Courtroom)

The situations the guards described — together with a 2020 incident that prompted an emergency listening to when an official confirmed as much as Francis’ dwelling and no guard was on responsibility — increase questions on how efficient his safety had been over his 4 years of home arrest.

Ricardo Buhain, who first spoke to the Put up, instructed the Union-Tribune that when he started working safety for Francis, in March 2018, Francis lived in a big studio residence above a storage on a property with a single-family dwelling in Carmel Valley. The house was unoccupied at first, however quickly Francis’ mom and three of his youngsters — a daughter and two sons — moved in.

“He had a full workers of at the least three or 4 individuals, relying on the shift, doing housekeeping and cooking,” Buhain stated, saying Francis “actually handled the workers like servants — he was horrible to them.”

Buhain stated he lived on the property full time, first within the empty dwelling after which within the storage as soon as Francis started getting ready it for his household. Buhain was a licensed safety guard on the time however was working in data know-how and as an electronics installer earlier than taking up the 24-7 process of monitoring Francis. He by no means labored for a safety firm in that position, however was provided the place by Francis’ then-doctor, who he knew. Buhain stated the physician paid his wage for the roughly six months he occupied the place.

On the uncommon event that Buhain would go away the Carmel Valley property, his good friend Anthony Galvan would generally step in, based on each males. When Buhain stop, Galvan took over, telling the Union-Tribune that his first few checks got here from the identical physician, however he was later paid straight by Francis.

Galvan stated that in contrast to Buhain, he labored 12-hour shifts, usually from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., although Francis was speculated to be monitored always. Galvan stated that in the first place, he would ask if one other guard was supposed to alleviate him and obtained assurances from Francis that he might go and that another person would arrive later. He finally assumed that wasn’t true and stated he by no means noticed one other guard.

Each Buhain and Galvan stated Francis had entry to telephones, computer systems and different internet-connected gadgets regardless of the principles of his furlough prohibiting such possessions on the time. They didn’t say in the event that they reported these infractions, however Buhain stated Francis would disguise them from officers who would come to test on him.

Workers author Greg Moran contributed to this report.

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