U.S. Navy admiral to enter plea in bribery case
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. Navy rear admiral is set to enter a plea Thursday on a charge of lying to federal investigators, making him the highest-ranking officer to be convicted in the expanding “Fat Leonard” bribery case, court records showed.
Robert Gilbeau, a special assistant to the chief of the Navy Supply Corps, was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in San Diego late Thursday afternoon, court records showed.
Defense attorney David Benkowitz confirmed to the Washington Post via email that Gilbeau would enter a guilty plea.
A guilty plea by Gilbeau would bring to 14 the number of people charged in the Singapore-based case, including former Glenn Defense Marine Asia Chief Executive Officer Leonard Francis, a Malaysian businessman known as “Fat Leonard.” He pleaded guilty last year to bribery charges. Nine of the 13 previously charged have pleaded guilty.
The court calendar item, provided by prosecutors, said that Gilbeau was scheduled for a so-called “change of plea” hearing regarding a single count of providing false information to investigators.
Prosecutors would not elaborate, saying the details were sealed until the hearing scheduled for 3:30 pm Pacific Time, and Gilbeau’s attorney was en route to the hearing and not immediately available for comment, his office said.
The court calendar item forwarded by Kelly Thornton, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of California, indicated that Gilbeau’s plea would be in connection with a single count of providing false information to investigators.
Three current and former U.S. Navy officers were charged with participating in the scheme on May 27, the U.S. Justice Department said.
(Reporting by Eric Walsh and Sharon Bernstein; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Bernard Orr)