Roughly a month before the start of the largest federal trial in the so-called “Fat Leonard” scandal, another Navy officer pleaded guilty Wednesday to taking bribes from foreign defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis in exchange for classified ship schedules and other information, the U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday.
Cmdr. Stephen Shedd, 48, pleaded guilty in a San Diego court to bribery charges and admitted that he and eight other Navy members “received more than $250,000 in meals, entertainment, travel and hotel expenses, gifts, cash and the services of prostitutes” from Francis, the rotund port services magnate, His company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, provided husbanding services to ships in the U.S. 7th Fleet for years, according to the Justice Department.
Shedd and eight others were indicted in March 2017 for conspiring with and receiving bribes from Francis.
He becomes the third of those original nine defendants to plead guilty ahead of the trial, which has been delayed several times and is now scheduled to begin on Feb. 28.
The remaining six defendants accused of “conspiring to trade military secrets and substantial influence” in exchange for Fat Leonard’s perks include Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, Capts. David Newland, James Dolan, David Lausmann and Donald Hornbeck, and Cmdr. Mario Herrera.
The Justice Department’s investigation led to 34 Navy officials and defense contractors being charged, with 28 pleading guilty.
Prosecutors say that the officials helped Francis win and maintain contracts, overbilling the Navy by more than $35 million in the process.
Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 and has yet to be sentenced.
According to Shedd’s admissions laid out in his plea agreement, “the defendants took official acts and exerted pressure on, advocated before, and provided advice to other U.S. Navy officials, knowing and intending that such advocacy would form the basis for such other officials’ decisions to pay GDMA’s claims, overlook inflated invoices, quash bid protests filed by GDMA’s competitors, suppress competition in contract awards, and resolve in GDMA’s favor other questions, matters, and controversies regarding GDMA’s husbanding business,” the Justice Department stated.
Shedd served as 7th Fleet’s South Asia policy and planning officer from 2006 to 2008 and later as the executive and commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer Milius from 2011 to 2014.
“The defendant has admitted he was one of the many whose allegiance was switched from the Navy to Leonard Francis,” U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said in a statement. “This abdication of the defendant’s duties to the Navy and the United States comes with heavy consequences.”
Shedd is scheduled to be sentenced July 21.
His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.