The highest-ranking U.S. Navy officer convicted so far in a massive bribery scandal was sentenced to almost four years in prison Friday for selling military secrets to an Asian defense contractor in exchange for prostitutes, stays at luxury hotel and other favors.
Capt. Daniel Dusek, the former commander of the USS Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault ship, received a 46-month prison sentence and was ordered to pay $100,000 in fines and restitution during a hearing in federal court in San Diego.
Dusek also heard some stern words from District Court Judge Janis Sammartino, who gave him a slightly stiffer sentence than prosecutors had sought.
“It’s truly unimaginable to the court that someone in your position with the United States Navy would sell out based on what was provided to you,” Sammartino said, adding that Dusek’s actions “potentially jeopardized national security.”
Dusek is one of 10 defendants charged so far in the case, perhaps the biggest corruption scandal in the Navy’s history. Two sailors have already received prison terms, while two other Navy officers and a senior agent for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
Federal prosecutors have said more criminal charges are likely. The Navy has also censured three admirals for ethics violations and suspended the security clearances for two others, including the chief of naval intelligence.
In a statement filed in federal court this week, Dusek admitted to “succumbing to the temptations before me” by giving classified information to Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a Singapore-based contractor, as part of a scheme to fleece the Navy of tens of millions of dollars. “I have disgraced myself and the Navy that I love and now end my naval career in utter humiliation,” Dusek wrote.
Dusek also hinted that higher-ranking officers were on the take and that the relationship between the contractor and Navy brass was even more sordid than previously known.
In his statement, he said a “senior officer who was a friend and a mentor” introduced him in 2010 to the owner of Glenn Defense Marine Asia, Leonard Glenn Francis, a charismatic figure known in Navy circles as “Fat Leonard.” The unnamed senior officer described Francis as “a great friend of the Navy” and influenced Dusek to trust and work closely with the contractor.
Francis pleaded guilty to bribery charges last year and is cooperating with U.S. investigators. He has admitted to systematically bribing “scores” of Navy personnel by plying them with prostitutes, envelopes of cash, stays at resorts and Epicurean feasts when their ships docked at ports throughout Asia.
In a fresh revelation, Dusek said Francis went so far as to purchase a decommissioned British naval vessel and turned it into a party boat to entertain top U.S. Navy officials. The ship, originally known as the RFA Sir Lancelot, was rechristened the Glenn Braveheart after Francis bought it in 2003.
Dusek also said that Francis had a traveling squad of prostitutes and strippers — dubbed his “Thai SEAL Team” — who accompanied him to greet U.S. ships as they arrived in Asian ports.
Glenn Defense Marine Asia was burrowed so deeply into the Navy’s officer corps, according to Dusek, that one of Francis’s deputies had “unfettered access” to the USS Blue Ridge, headquarters ship for the 7th Fleet, which oversees all Navy operations in Asia. Dusek said the deputy, Edmond Aruffo, a retired Navy officer, “openly assimilated himself” into the 7th Fleet staff and often dined with officers on board the Blue Ridge — a place that should have been off-limits to contractors.
Aruffo has pleaded guilty to bribery charges and is awaiting sentencing.
Dusek said family problems, overwork and “excessive amounts of alcohol” made him vulnerable to Francis’s bribes.
His attorneys argued that he should receive a prison sentence of no more than 27 months, noting that he turned himself in to investigators after Francis was arrested in September 2013. Prosecutors, however, noted that Dusek tried to delete all his emails as soon as word spread that Francis had been arrested.
“This is a fitting sentence for a man who was so valuable that his conspirators labeled him their ‘Golden Asset,’ ” said Laura Duffy, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California.