Interpol arrests US fugitive ‘Fat Leonard’ Francis in Venezuela, apparently en route to Russia

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Interpol has arrested Leonard Glenn Francis, the Malaysian defense contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard”, who escaped from US home detention just before he was convicted of his central role in the largest bribery scandal in US military history, US Marshal Omar Castillo said Wednesday. Francis was arrested Tuesday morning in Venezuela, at the Caracas airport while waiting for a flight to Russia, said Carlos Garate Rodon, director general of Interpol Venezuela. He arrived in Venezuela from Mexico.

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Francis, who cut off his GPS ankle monitor and fled his home in San Diego on Sept. 4, was set to be sentenced Thursday. He was arrested in 2013 and pleaded guilty to bribing naval officers to ports served by his company. Francis’ plea deal required him to cooperate with prosecutors and return $35 million in ill-gotten gains. His cooperation helped convict nearly three dozen naval personnel, including four naval officers, but he still owes the U.S. government $30 million. San Diego Union Tribune reports, citing a lawyer for one of the convicted officers.

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In return, Francis would receive a significant reduction in his prison sentence. “That agreement is now probably null and void,” says the… Union Tribune notes. Francis was arrested on a “red message” from Interpol following an international manhunt, and he is now awaiting extradition to the US, a process that could take some time.

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