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‘Fat Leonard’, mastermind of Navy bribery scheme, escapes house arrest in San Diego weeks before sentencing

The federal agency monitoring Francis’ house arrest, Pretrial Services, called the San Diego Police Department on Sunday to verify it, U.S. Marshal Omar Castillo told CNN. When police discovered Francis’ house was empty, they contacted US Marshals, Castillo said.

When a team of U.S. Marshals visited Francis’ home on Sunday, Castillo said, the only thing they found was the anklet he had cut off and left in a portable cooler.

Neighbors told US Marshals they had recently seen several U-Haul trucks at Francis’s, according to Castillo.

“It looks like he’s been planning this for a while,” he told CNN.

The Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force, San Diego Division — which is led by U.S. Marshals — is looking for Francis.

Castillo said the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is also involved because they worked on the original case.

“We have a few leads that we’re following up,” Castillo said.

The U.S. Marshals Service has issued a national “be on the lookout” alert for Francis, Castillo told CNN on Tuesday afternoon.

The former military contractor was flagged as a fugitive in a national database used by law enforcement during encounters with police, Castillo said, who will also alert U.S. Marshals in the event Francis attempts to board. a flight under his name at any commercial airport in the country. .

The U.S. Marshals Service is also coordinating with its border control and law enforcement counterparts in Mexico if Francis attempts to flee through the U.S. southern border, he added.

Kelly Thornton of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California told CNN on Tuesday that her office “supports the U.S. Marshals Service and its San Diego Fugitive Task Force in their efforts,” but declined to comment. any further.

Francis, whose nickname comes from his then 400-pound weight, pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud charges in 2015.

The investigation into the corruption scandal began in 2013 and affected capitals and ports in the Pacific, including Singapore, Tokyo, Bangkok and Manila. During the investigation, several Navy officials were arrested and charged with accepting money, prostitutes and all-expenses-paid trips in return for steering ships to ports where Francis’ contracting company operated, providing services such as fuel and tugs.

CNN contacted the FBI in San Diego. Contacted by the San Diego Union-Tribune on Monday, Francis’ defense attorney declined to comment.

CNN’s Taylor Romine and Josh Campbell contributed to this report.

Cnn

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