YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan – The general manager of a Navy contractor accused of bribing high-level Navy officers pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court Tuesday to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Alex Wisidagama faces up to 10 years in prison for overbilling the Navy while his co-workers at Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a ship-support contractor, plied officers with cash, prostitutes and luxury travel in exchange for their help.
Wisidagama is the second man involved in the case to plead guilty.
In December, former Naval Criminal Investigative Service supervisory agent John Bertrand Beliveau Jr. pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery after sharing information about a criminal probe into GDMA with company owner Leonard Glenn Francis, known to associates as “Fat Leonard.”
Francis, a Malaysian national, was arrested last year in San Diego and continues to fight conspiracy and bribery charges. Wisidagama, a Singaporean citizen, is Francis’ cousin.
GDMA submitted false competitive bids for incidental services, such as providing trash and water barges, about 177 times to ships on port visits to Phuket, Thailand, between September 2011 and June 2012, according to the court complaint against Wisidagama.
Wisidagama also oversaw false bids in other parts of Thailand, as well as Malaysia and Brunei, according to court documents. He would then overbill the Navy for incidentals not included in the bids, costing the Navy at least $2.3 million.
Beyond the false bids, Wisidagama found other ways to defraud the Navy. For five port visits in 2011, GDMA overcharged the Navy by more than $3 million, according to the complaint.
Wisidagama also created fictitious port authorities, and, in other cases, fake invoices from legitimate port authorities, according to the plea agreement.
Court documents state that Wisidagama and other GDMA employees bribed Navy officers in order to steer ships to ports where the company knew it could more easily overbill ships.
“Certain ports are more lucrative than others,” the complaint against Wisidagama stated. “GDMA employees referred to these ports as ‘Pearl Ports.’ ”
Cmdr. Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, a captain-select who commanded USS Mustin, and later served as deputy operations officer aboard the USS Blue Ridge for the Yokosuka-based U.S. 7th Fleet, is among those accused of sending ships to those lucrative ports in exchange for bribes.
Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez has also been charged by federal prosecutors with providing classified ship schedule information to Francis in exchange for bribes.
Vice Adm. Ted Branch, Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless and former USS Bonhomme Richard commander Capt. Daniel Dusek are all under investigation in relation to the scandal but have not been charged, Navy officials have stated.
The allegations leveled at the two admirals involve “inappropriate conduct” prior to their current ranks, officials said in December.
GDMA has been supporting Navy ships for more than 25 years, according to court documents.