‘Fat Leonard’ on the run weeks before sentencing for massive US navy bribery scandal

A Malaysian businessman known as “Fat Leonard” has escaped house arrest and is on the run weeks before he was due to be sentenced over his role in the largest corruption scandal in US navy history.

Leonard Glenn Francis, known by the nickname “Fat Leonard” was three weeks away from sentencing after pleading guilty in 2015 to offering $500,000 in bribes to US navy officers to secure work for his shipyards, and to swindling the navy out of at least $35 million in overcharges.

Prosecutors say he lured navy officers not only with money but with lavish meals, and hedonistic alcohol-fuelled parties in upscale hotels to gain influence and access to military intelligence.

Police officers arrived at his residence at around 1.45pm on Sunday after being notified of an anomaly in his GPS-operated ankle bracelet by the federal agency monitoring him.

“Upon arrival they noticed that nobody was home,” Omar Castillo, supervisory deputy US marshal, told news outlets. The sheared bracelet was left behind, and the San Diego regional fugitive task force launched a manhunt, aided by the naval criminal investigative service.

‘He was planning this out’

Neighbours in the gated community told authorities that they had seen moving trucks going in and out of Francis’ home in the days leading up to his escape, reported the San Diego Union Tribune.

“He was planning this out, that’s for sure,” Mr Castillo said.

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