The fugitive nicknamed “Fat Leonard” who masterminded a massive, multimillion-dollar Navy bribery scam is seeking asylum in Venezuela, where he was captured a week ago after spending 16 days on the lam.
Leonard Glenn Francis slipped away from federal authorities on Sept. 4 by cutting off his GPS monitor as he awaited sentencing on house arrest in San Diego.
A more than two-week international manhunt for the girthy Malaysian defense contractor ended on Sept. 20 when he was nabbed at Caracas airport as he prepared to board a flight to Russia, according to Interpol in Venezuela.
A law-enforcement official said that Francis has since asked for asylum in the South American country.
By law, the Venezuelan government must consider the fugitive’s request.
Venezuela and the US have an extradition agreement, though the Biden administration doesn’t officially recognize President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government, has no embassy in Venezuela and has imposed crushing sanctions on the country.
US authorities have 30 days to formally request Francis’ extradition.
Francis owned Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd. or GDMA, that supplied food, water and fuel to vessels for decades.
He has admitted to overbilling the US Navy by $35 million with the help of dozens of naval officers whom he plied with prostitutes, Kobe beef, cigars and cash bribes totaling $500,000 so they would direct their ships to ports Francis controlled in the Pacific in Southeast Asia.
Francis, dubbed “Fat Leonard” for his 350-pound frame and his larger-than-life personality to match, pleaded guilty to federal charges in 2015 and faced up to 25 years in prison
While awaiting sentencing, he was given home confinement in San Diego in 2018 to receive medical care as he cooperated with the prosecution, which led to the convictions of 33 of 34 defendants — among them 17 Navy officials.
US and Venezuelan officials said that with his sentencing hearing set for Sept. 22, Francis cut off his ankle monitor, fled to Mexico and then made his way to Cuba before turning up in Venezuela.
He had been the subject of a search by 10 US agencies and a $40,000 award was offered for his arrest.
With Post wires