WASHINGTON — A criminal investigation of an alleged contracting scheme involving a top-secret Navy project has resulted in the disclosure of an improper relationship, and forced the resignation of a top Navy civilian, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
Robert C. Martinage, the acting undersecretary of the Navy, stepped down after his boss, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, asked for his resignation “following a loss of confidence in [his] abilities to effectively perform his duties,” according to a statement the Navy released Wednesday.
Navy officials told the Post that Martinage was pressured to quit after investigators looking into his role in the top-secret program discovered that he was having an affair.
According to the report, federal prosecutors testified last week in U.S. District Court in Alexandria that Martinage is not a criminal target of their inquiry. But they said one of his subordinates has told them that Martinage gave approval for a mysterious operation to acquire a large batch of firearm silencers intended for SEAL Team 6, the elite commando unit that killed Osama bin Laden.
In that case, three senior Navy intelligence officials who reported to Martinage are under investigation for an alleged contracting scheme that charged the military $1.6 million for homemade silencers that cost only $8,000 to manufacture, court records show.
Martinage is not a target of the criminal investigation, Morris R. Parker Jr., an assistant U.S. attorney and the lead prosecutor in the case told the Post.
Martinage, who has a background in special operations and intelligence, had been serving as acting undersecretary of the Navy since April. The silencer investigation is one of two unfolding Navy scandals involving alleged contracting fraud and illicit sex.
In the other case, the Justice Department has arrested two Navy commanders on charges of giving sensitive information to a major Singapore-based defense contractor, owned by Leonard Glenn Francis, known in Navy circles as “Fat Leonard,” in exchange for prostitutes, cash bribes and luxury travel. A senior Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent arrested in the same case pleaded guilty to similar charges last month.
In addition, two captains have been suspended or reassigned by the Navy, and two admirals who work in Navy intelligence have had their access to classified materials suspended while investigators scrutinize their possible connections to the Singapore contractor, Glenn Defense Marine Asia.