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Another former executive in 'Fat Leonard' Navy scandal is extradited to San Diego

By KRISTINA DAVIS | The San Diego Union-Tribune | Published: March 10, 2021

SAN DIEGO (Tribune News Service) — Six years after being indicted by a San Diego federal grand jury, a Thai national has been extradited to face charges of conspiring to overcharge the U.S. Navy by more than $5 million as part of Leonard Glenn Francis' historic corruption scheme.

Pornpun "Yin" Settaphakorn, 41, appeared in front of a San Diego judge for the first time Friday, pleading not guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and several charges of making false claims.

According to the indictment, Settaphakorn oversaw the Thailand office of Singapore-based defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia for Francis, the company's gregarious and influential owner, who became known by the moniker "Fat Leonard."

The company, known as GDMA, serviced Navy ships in ports throughout Southeast Asia, from security to tug boats to trash removal. Francis not only bribed scores of naval officials to help secure those contracts — often with expensive booze, prostitutes and luxury hotels — but his company then overcharged for the services.

Settaphakorn is accused of submitting false claims of more than $5 million, including handing in false price quotes from subcontractors that did not exist, using doctored letterhead and graphics to make them appear more authentic, according to the indictment.

She was indicted in December 2014 alongside two other executives for GDMA, Neil Peterson and Linda Raja, who were extradited from Singapore in 2016. They pleaded guilty and have already served sentences of 70 months and 46 months, respectively. Both have been returned to Singapore.

Settaphakorn had been jailed in Thailand since at least May 2019, when the U.S. charges against her were unsealed, according to court records.

In a hearing Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Crawford ordered Settaphakorn to remain detained pending trial.

So far, 23 people have pleaded guilty in the wide-ranging investigation, including Francis, who has cooperated with the investigation while suffering a multitude of health issues. He has yet to be sentenced.

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