President Trump’s top political appointee in the Navy has censured a retired admiral and two other officers for embarrassing ethical violations in connection with a sprawling criminal investigation involving disgraced defense contractor “Fat Leonard” Glenn Francis, Navy officials said Wednesday.
Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer disciplined retired Rear Adm. Richard Wren, as well as Navy Capt. Timothy Conroy and retired Capt. Charles Johnson, said Cmdr. Bill Speaks, a service spokesman.
Spencer based his decision on Navy findings that each officer had improper interactions and accepted gifts from Francis’s company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, in violation of service rules. The Navy has said that Francis defrauded the U.S. government of about $35 million.
Spencer said in the letter to Wren that he “demonstrated exceedingly poor judgment and leadership by repeatedly and improperly accepting gifts from Mr. Leonard Francis,” noting that he was a “prohibited source” because he was a defense contractor who had business with the Navy. Spencer also accused Wren of attempting to mislead investigators with a false statement during a 2015 interview.
“As a senior officer, you had a duty to represent the United States and the United States Navy in a way that upheld the values of our great nation and Navy,” Spencer wrote. “Rather, you intentionally disregarded the ethical standards long established for the naval service and brought ill-repute and disgrace upon our honored institution.”
The letters to Conroy and Johnson include similar allegations. Conroy was accused of accepting gifts, including the company of a prostitute who was paid for by Francis. Johnson was accused of accepting a variety of dinners and gifts from the defense firm and drinking alcohol to excess at a dinner in Australia in a manner “which was to the disgrace of the armed forces.”
The letters of censure are considered a formal, public shaming, and will be placed in the personnel files of the officers. They were issued after a joint investigation led by the Justice Department.
“It is incumbent that naval officers, particularly those placed in positions of great trust and responsibility, be held to the highest standards of both personal and professional behavior,” Spencer said in a statement. The three officers “each disregarded those standards and engaged in conduct that reflected unethical and improper personal behavior and set poor standards of leadership. Each officer’s conduct is an embarrassment to the thousands of officers, sailors and civilians who do the right thing every day.”
Craig Whitlock contributed to this report.