Leonard Glenn Francis, who pleaded guilty to involvement in one of the US Navy’s worst corruption scandals, has been arrested in Venezuela after recently escaping house arrest in San Diego and on the run.
Francis, a former military contractor also known as “Fat Leonard,” was arrested at an airport while trying to flee the country, Interpol Venezuela said in a statement shared on Instagram on Wednesday. The agency said Francis entered the country via Mexico with a stopover in Cuba and plans to travel to Russia as a final destination.
Authorities said he was arrested at Simn Bolvar International Airport, north of the Venezuelan capital of Caracas. Francis will be handed over to Venezuela’s judicial authorities, who will then begin extradition proceedings, Interpol said.
After a federal agency monitoring Francis found he had fled, law enforcement officers went to his home and found nothing but the tracking device, US Deputy Marshal Antonio Kirby previously told Insider. Immediately, a whole host of law enforcement agencies, including the marshals, began a frantic hunt for Francis.
“We get the impression this was pre-planned, neighbors have informed the Marshals Service that they’ve seen U-Hauls come and go over time,” Kirby told Insider at the time.
The US Marshals Service confirmed Francis’ capture in Venezuela to the Associated Press. The agency could not immediately be reached for comment by insiders on Thursday.
Interpol Venezuela said in its statement that Francis was wanted on “red alert” by “the central national office in Washington for bribery and corruption.”
According to the agency, this designation is “issued to fugitives who are wanted either for prosecution or to serve a sentence” and “a request for law enforcement authorities worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest an individual pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.” steps to come”.
Exactly when Francis might be extradited to the US was not immediately announced. Additional problems could also arise as the State Department does not recognize the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has been accused by the UN of human rights abuses and repressive tactics.
As he fled, Francis was waiting to be sentenced for his role in a corruption scandal involving dozens of people, including US Navy officers and his Singapore-based contractor company, which served Navy ships in ports across Southeast Asia.
Prosecutors say Francis bribed officers with hundreds of thousands of dollars for job opportunities and classified information, and overcharged the Navy by more than $35 million. Court documents checked by Insider show he was arrested in 2013 and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in 2015.
At Francis’ hearing Thursday, US District Court Judge Janis Sammartino said a “no bail warrant” was issued for Francis, according to the AP, and scheduled a new hearing for him on Dec. 14.