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Navy corruption scandal mastermind "Fat Leonard" captured in Venezuela

A military contractor who served as the architect behind the "Fat Leonard" Navy scandal has been captured in Venezuela after he went on the lam earlier this month, the U.S. Marshals Service confirmed to CBS News Wednesday night.

Leonard Francis, who goes by the nickname "Fat Leonard," was detained on an Interpol red notice at Simon Bolivar International Airport in Caracas while boarding a flight to Cuba, the U.S. Marshals Service told CBS News.

Leonard had been under house arrest in San Diego, and was days away from being sentenced, when he cut off his ankle bracelet in early September and fled.

U.S. Marshals had believed Leonard had fled south into Mexico after cutting off his monitoring bracelet.

Francis was first arrested in San Diego in 2013 and pleaded guilty in 2015 to offering $500,000 in bribes to Navy officers. In exchange, the officers passed him classified information and even went so far as redirecting military vessels to ports that were lucrative for his Singapore-based ship servicing company. Francis, according to prosecutors, overcharged the U.S. military by $35 million for his company's services.

According to his 2015 plea agreement, Francis identified seven Navy officials who had accepted bribes and acknowledged paying off officials with hundreds of thousands in cash, as well as luxury goods worth millions. He supplied them with prostitutes and Cuban cigars, luxury travel, Spanish suckling pigs and Kobe beef. Officials received spa treatments, top-shelf alcohol, designer handbags, leather goods, designer furniture, watches, fountain pens, ornamental swords and handmade ship models, according to court documents.

Over 30 Navy officers and contractors have either been convicted or pleaded guilty to charges related to Francis' services.

At times weighing in at more than 400 pounds, Francis was colloquially known as "Fat Leonard."

Francis was under house arrest since at least 2018 and under the supervision of a federal agency, Pre-Trial Services, that monitors defendants who are out of custody until sentencing. Prior to his disappearance, he had been scheduled to be sentenced at the end of September, and faced up to 25 years behind bars.   

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