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Retired Navy officer in Hawaii pleads guilty in ‘Fat Leonard’ corruption scandal

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    In this July 4, 2001, photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Navy Commander Dave Kapaun, right, with Republic of Singapore Navy Major Danny Tan, left, and Republic of Singapore Major H.C. Lim at a reception on board the U.S. Navy dock landing ship USS Rushmore.

A former high-ranking Camp Smith civilian employee admitted in federal court Tuesday that he concealed information about his past association with a Singapore-based defense contractor known as “Fat Leonard,” who is at the center of a massive Navy bribery scandal.

David Kapaun, former deputy chief of staff of the Special Operations Command Pacific, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to making materially false and fraudulent statements in February 2015 on a form to update his security clearance.

Kapaun, 58, a retired Navy officer, said he intentionally failed to list Leonard Glenn Francis as a foreign national with whom he had contact. He said if he had listed Francis, he would have also been required to detail the nature of his relationship with him and that would have impacted his ability to maintain his security clearance.

“I did have a past association with him that was not favorable,” Kapaun said.

He submitted the form to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management one month after Francis, a Malaysian national, pleaded guilty in a federal courtroom in San Diego to bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. on behalf of himself and his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

Prosecutors say Francis and his company defrauded the U.S. government out of $35 million from 2004 to 2013 by plying Navy officers with dinners, hotel stays, entertainment and prostitutes for information about American warship movements and logistics. He then had the officers direct the ships to ports his company controlled, sign off on inflated charges for port services and protect his company from scrutiny.

More than two dozen people, mostly current or former Navy officers, including two admirals, have been charged in connection with the scandal.

“He played a minor role in the overall scheme that was conducted by Fat Leonard,” Kapauan’s attorney Victor Bakke said of his client. “He’s remorseful. He realizes he should have used better judgment. But just like the number of other Naval officers that are involved in this case, he was seduced by this guy.”

Kapaun resigned from his Camp Smith job in January. He faces a maximum five-year jail term and $250,000 fine at sentencing in September.

As part of his plea deal with the federal prosecutor Kapaun agreed to pay a $25,000 fine, restitution of $50,000 and perform 200 hours of community service. He has also agreed to undergo two years of court supervision following whatever jail or prison term he may have to serve as part of his sentence.

Kapaun started working at Camp Smith in 2009. He retired from the Navy in 2008 as a surface warfare officer after 25 years of service.

Kapaun retired and was honorably discharged after a 25-year Navy career, Bakke said. “Even though he’s retired, they could pull him back to active duty and court-martial him if they wanted to,” he said.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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