SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Navy officials boarded the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard to relieve Capt. Daniel Dusek of his command Wednesday as an investigation into a bribery scandal involving prostitutes and luxury travel ensnared another high-ranking officer.
Expeditionary Strike Group Seven commander Rear Adm. Hugh Wetherald cited a loss of confidence in Dusek’s ability to command in relieving him of his duties, Navy officials said. Dusek, who had not been charged with a crime, is under investigation by the Justice Department in the alleged bribery scandal, which broke last month and appears to be expanding, Navy officials said.
The investigation has focused on an alleged scheme to swap classified ship information for luxury travel and prostitutes, and has led to the arrests of a former commanding officer of the USS Mustin, an NCIS agent and the head of Singapore-based defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia, or GDMA, which has been providing support services for more than 25 years.
“After careful consideration, Adm. Wetherald determined the investigation negatively affected Dusek’s leadership ability and was a distraction to the command mission,” according to a Navy statement released shortly after Dusek’s dismissal.
Dusek did not respond to emails seeking comment Wednesday. He has been temporarily assigned to Expeditionary Strike Group Seven and has been replaced by the ship’s executive officer, Capt. Murray Tynch III, Navy officials said.
The crew of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group’s flagship was briefed on the situation, according to strike group spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Brian Wierzbicki. Dusek did not protest his dismissal and the transition occurred “honorably.”
The scandal broke last month when the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Diego announced the arrest of Cmdr. Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, a captain-select who commanded Mustin and later served as deputy operations officer aboard the USS Blue Ridge for the Yokosuka-based U.S. 7th Fleet, as well as Naval Criminal Investigative Service supervisory agent John Bertrand Beliveau II and GDMA’s Leonard Glenn Francis.
Misiewicz stands accused in the official complaint of steering aircraft carriers USS George Washington, USS Blue Ridge and other ships to international ports with lax oversight, where GDMA would overcharge the Navy for millions of dollars in services. In return, GDMA allegedly offered concert tickets and prostitutes.
Beliveau is accused of accessing sensitive networks once an investigation was launched and illegally supplying Francis with sensitive information.
Navy officials declined to comment on the investigation Wednesday, where Dusek fits in or his level of alleged involvement, referring all inquiries to the Justice Department, which could not be reached for comment after business hours.
According to Dusek’s Navy biography, he served as deputy operations officer aboard the USS Blue Ridge from January 2009-February 2011. Misiewicz took over the position, after leaving the Mustin, from 2011 until April 2012.
Dusek first reported to the Bonhomme Richard’s predecessor, USS Essex, as executive officer in May 2011 and assumed command June 28, 2012, shortly after the Bonhomme Richard arrived in Sasebo in a hull-swap.
Dusek is a native of Waldport, Ore. His Navy biography says he was commissioned through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1989 after earning a bachelor’s degree in Atmospheric Sciences from the University of Washington. He has deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom and was highly decorated as the commander of the guided missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald, winning multiple awards during his tenure including two consecutive Bloodhound Awards for the top performing anti-submarine ship.
Dusek has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal and Navy Achievement Medal three times apiece.