According to the U.S. Marshals Service, Leonard Francis, a former military contractor known as “Fat Leonard,” who masterminded the biggest corruption scandal in U.S. Navy history, is on the run after breaking out of house imprisonment in San Diego, severing his GPS monitoring ankle bracelet.
The San Diego Union-Tribune was the first to reveal the escape three weeks before his punishment.
Supervisory Deputy US Marshal Omar Castillo told CNN that Pretrial Services, the federal organization overseeing Francis’ house detention, called the San Diego Police Department on Sunday to inquire about him. Castillo added that when police found Francis’ house unoccupied, they notified the U.S. Marshals.
According to Castillo, Francis had removed his ankle band and left it in a portable cooler when a team of U.S. Marshals visited his home on Sunday.
According to Castillo, neighbors informed the U.S. Marshals that they had recently spotted multiple U-Haul trucks at Francis’ home.
He told CNN, “it seems he has been planning this for a time.”
Francis is being sought by the San Diego section of the Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force, managed by the U.S. Marshals.
Because they worked on the initial case, according to Castillo, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is also involved.
Castillo stated, “We’re following a few leads.
Castillo informed CNN on Tuesday afternoon that Francis is the subject of a statewide “be on the lookout” alert from the U.S. Marshals Service.
According to Castillo, the former military contractor has been marked as a fugitive in a national database utilised by law enforcement during police interactions. This will also notify U.S. Marshals if Francis tries to book a trip under his name in any commercial airport throughout the nation.
He added that if Francis tries to escape across the U.S. southern border, the U.S. Marshals Service collaborates with its border control and law enforcement counterparts in Mexico.
In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Kelly Thornton, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California, stated that her office “is aiding the U.S. Marshals Service and its San Diego Fugitive Task Force in their efforts,” but she declined to elaborate.
Francis, whose moniker was derived from his 400-pound weight at the time, admitted to counts of bribery and fraud in 2015.
The corruption scandal probe got underway in 2013 and included Singapore, Tokyo, Bangkok, and Manila, among other Pacific region capitals and ports. Multiple Navy officers were detained and accused during the investigation of directing ships to ports where Francis’ contracting business operated, supplying services like gasoline and tugboats, in exchange for cash, prostitutes, and all-expenses-paid trips.
CNN has made contact with the San Diego FBI. In response to the San Diego Union-Tribune’s questions on Monday, Francis’s defence lawyer remained silent.