The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Another Navy officer gets prison time for taking bribes and prostitutes from ‘Fat Leonard’

Then-Lt. Gentry Debord aboard the USS Essex during a deployment to the South China Sea in 2008. Debord was sentenced Thursday to 30 months in federal prison for taking bribes, including assignations with prostitutes, from a Singapore-based defense contractor. (David Didier/U.S. Navy)

A Navy officer who blamed his addiction to sex for becoming entangled in a corrupt relationship with an Asian defense contractor was sentenced Thursday in San Diego to 30 months in federal prison.

Lt. Cmdr. Gentry Debord, 41, a supply officer based in Singapore, became the seventh current or former Navy official to receive prison time in a sex-for-secrets scandal that has dogged the maritime service for more than three years. Three other officers, including an admiral, have pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in San Diego, the hub of the investigation, but have not been sentenced. Many others remain under scrutiny.

In a plea bargain with federal prosecutors, Debord admitted to taking bribes over several years in the form of travel, entertainment and prostitutes from Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a Singapore-based contractor that provided fuel and supplies for Navy ships at Pacific ports.

In exchange, Debord helped Glenn Defense submit bogus invoices bills to the Navy, according to court records. He also served as a mole for the company’s president, Leonard Glenn Francis, known in Navy circles as “Fat Leonard,” by tipping him off about an internal investigation into the firm.

Francis, who pleaded guilty to corruption charges in 2015, has admitted to bribing “scores” of Navy officers with prostitutes, alcohol and extravagant meals. But court papers portray Debord, who was married, as a particularly easy mark because of his eagerness for illicit sex.

When Debord wanted to arrange for a tryst during a port visit, he would email Francis or Glenn Defense staffers and request “cheesecake” or “bodyguards” — coded language for prostitutes. He also sought, and received, paid apartment or hotel rooms for his assignations at ports throughout Asia.

For example, when Debord was serving on the USS Essex in 2008, he emailed one of Francis’s employees ahead of a visit to Thailand. “Is it possible to get us two hotel reservations,” he inquired. “Also, I would like some cheese cake.”

According to his plea agreement, Debord’s never-ending demand for prostitutes became a source of amusement to Glenn Defense staffers, one of whom called him “sex crazy” in an email to his colleagues.

In a court filing, Debord’s attorney blamed his behavior, in part, on what he called an addiction to sex. “He was a young guy and he had this addiction, this sex addiction, that made him vulnerable,” defense lawyer Robert Schlein of San Diego said in a phone interview.

Schlein had argued for a more lenient sentence of 24 months in prison. He said Debord was contrite and not trying to make any excuses for his actions.

“This guy was the most remorseful person I had run across in many, many years,” Schlein said. “He acknowledged that he had dishonored his family and the Navy, that he had given the Navy a black eye, and that he had basically ruined his name.”