Navy investigator to plead guilty in fraud case

JULIE WATSON Associated Press Published:

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A senior Navy investigator accused of tipping off an Asian defense contractor at the center of a multimillion dollar fraud probe in exchange for prostitution services and luxury travel plans to plead guilty to bribery charges, his lawyer said Thursday.

John Beliveau II will plead guilty to bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery at a hearing Tuesday in federal court in San Diego, his attorney Jan Ronis said.

The guilty plea will be the first for prosecutors in the case rocking the Pentagon. The supervisory agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is one of three Navy officials who have been arrested in the case.

Prosecutors allege the Navy officials worked in cahoots with Malaysian defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis, who was arrested in San Diego in September. Authorities say Francis, the 49-year-old CEO of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., or GDMA, offered bribes to Navy officers in exchange for confidential information, including ship routes, that he used to overbill the Navy for port services in Asia.

Francis and his cousin, a company manager, who was also arrested, have pleaded not guilty. Two Navy captains also have pleaded not guilty.

Ronis declined to say whether his client has agreed to cooperate with investigators in the expanding probe, which prompted the Navy to suspend two admirals' access to classified material.

Beliveau faces a maximum sentence of 20 years for the two charges he's admitting.

"He accepts responsibility for what he's done and he's hoping for a fair sentence," Ronis said.

Prosecutors declined to comment on the development Thursday. Francis' lawyer, Pat Swan, also declined to comment on whether he is concerned Beliveau's change in plea could hurt his client's case.

According to a criminal complaint, Beliveau, 44, not only kept Francis abreast of the bribery probe but advised him on how to respond.

Prosecutors say Francis bribed Navy commanders to move Navy vessels like chess pieces, diverting aircraft carriers, destroyers and other ships to Asian ports with lax oversight where GDMA could inflate costs and invent tariffs by using phony port authorities.