‘Fat Leonard,’ mastermind of U.S. Navy bribery scheme, cuts off ankle monitor, disappears

A man who masterminded one of the largest corruption scandals in U.S. Navy history fled from house arrest Sunday, three weeks before he was to be sentenced, The San Diego Tribune is reporting.

>> Read more trending news

Leonard Francis, a former military contractor known as “Fat Leonard,” was under house arrest when he cut off his GPS monitoring ankle bracelet on Sunday morning and left his home in San Diego, according to The Washington Post.

According to the Tribune, the federal agency monitoring Francis was alerted to an anomaly with the ankle bracelet and his attorneys went to check on him. One of his attorneys called police for a welfare check when Francis did not answer knocks on his door.

When the police arrived and entered the home, they found it empty except for the ankle monitor that was left behind, according to U.S. Marshal Omar Castillo.

Neighbors in the gated San Diego community told federal officials that they had seen U-Haul moving trucks going in and out of Francis’ multimillion-dollar home in the days prior to his escape, Castillo said.

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

Francis ran a military contracting firm that serviced U.S. Navy ships in ports that he controlled in Southeast Asia, and was charged with bribing U.S. Navy officials after a federal sting operation in 2013.

In 2015, he pleaded guilty to bribery and overcharging the Navy at least $35 million. Francis had been given a medical furlough after dealing with several serious health issues, including kidney cancer. He had been under house arrest since 2018.