3 rear admirals forced out amid massive Navy bribery investigation
By ERIK SLAVIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 10, 2015
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The commander of naval forces in Japan and two other admirals are retiring following letters of censure issued by the secretary of the Navy in connection with a wide-ranging bribery scandal in the Asia-Pacific region.
Naval Forces Japan commander Rear Adm. Terry Kraft, along with rear admirals Michael Miller and David Pimpo, were censured by Secretary Ray Mabus to “document their failure of leadership” related to dealings with Glenn Defense Marine Asia between 2006 and 2007, according to a Navy statement.
Navy officials spanning the ranks from enlisted to commanding officers, as well as high-placed civilians, have pleaded guilty since December 2013 to trading classified information in exchange for luxury travel, cash and prostitutes with ship support contractor GDMA and its owner, Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis.
Francis, 50, pleaded guilty to bribery charges in San Diego federal court in January.
Prosecutors say that Francis, with help from his naval contacts, bilked the U.S. government out of more than $20 million by guiding ships to preferred ports in the Asia-Pacific region and then overcharging them for various services.
The three admirals do not face any criminal charges at this time, according to the statement. In April, Mabus appointed Adm. John Richardson, who heads the Navy’s nuclear propulsion program, to convene a Consolidated Disposition Authority.
The authority is convened “to ensure that individuals are held appropriately accountable when less than criminal allegations are substantiated,” according to the Navy statement.
During the investigation time frame, Kraft served as commander of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, while Miller served as carrier strike group commander and Kraft’s superior.
Pimpo, who currently heads Naval Supply Systems Command’s weapons support department, was the carrier’s supply officer at the time.
Richardson’s investigation concluded that all three officers violated Navy ethical conduct standards after they improperly accepted gifts from Francis. One of the admirals, who was not named, was also censured for soliciting gifts from GDMA.
Two of the admirals were also cited for improperly endorsing a commercial business.
The admirals’ actions and overly familiar relationship with Francis “cultivated an unacceptable ethical climate within the respective commands,” according to the statement.
Kraft will retire next month, Naval Forces Japan officials said Wednesday, and declined comment.
Rear Adm. Matthew J. Carter, who currently heads the Patrol and Reconnaissance Group Pacific, has been appointed to assume Kraft’s present command.
Rear Adm. Paul J. Verrastro, currently assigned to the Office of Chief of Naval Operations, will replace Pimpo. Miller has been serving as an assistant to the Naval Academy superintendent, and his successor has not yet been named.
Vice Adm. Ted Branch and Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless have remained under investigation for their connections with GDMA for more than year but have not yet been charged.