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Navy commander pleads guilty in 'Fat Leonard' case

Cmdr. Michael V. Misiewicz, commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin, is greeted by members of his family as Mustin arrives in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, on Dec. 3, 2010.

Devon Dow/U.S. Navy

By Kristina Davis | The San Diego Union-Tribune (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 28, 2016

A Navy commander who has been one of the last holdouts fighting bribery charges in the “Fat” Leonard scandal pleaded guilty Thursday.

Michael Misiewicz, who is accused of diverting Navy ships to numerous Southeastern Asian ports manned by Navy contractor “Fat” Leonard Francis, pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court to conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery of a public official.

Seven others, including Francis and former and current Navy members and employees, have pleaded guilty in the still-unfolding case. With Misiewicz’s plea, that leaves one remaining defendant fighting a bribery charge, Paul Simpkins, a former Department of Defense official who once oversaw Navy contracts in Southeast Asia.

However, federal prosecutors indicate more charges could still be on the horizon as the investigation continues.

Misiewicz, who managed operations on the Blue Ridge, the flagship of the Navy’s 7th Fleet, is one of the highest ranking officials to be implicated in the scandal. He is accused of accepting bribes of prostitutes, luxury hotel stays and travel expenses for helping bolster Francis’ contracting company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia. The company provides services and goods for visiting ships, such as trash removal, security and food.

Misiewicz’s lawyers wrote in an earlier court document that the veteran Navy man did not act corruptly.

“Rather, consistent with his 28 years of dedicated, meritorious service, each and every official act by Commander Misiewicz was taken in his belief that it was in the best interest of the Navy,” the motion reads.

The first sentencing in the case occurred last week. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dan Layug received two years and three months in prison for his role swapping classified information for bribes of cash and gadgets. Prosecutors considered him the least culpable actor in the scheme.

On Friday, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Todd Dale Malaki is set for sentencing.

Misiewicz is to be sentenced April 29.

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©2016 The San Diego Union-Tribune

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