Navy lieutenant arraigned in Norfolk in connection with 'Fat Leonard' scandal
By BROCK VERGAKIS | The Virginian-Pilot (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 31, 2018
NORFOLK — A Navy lieutenant was arraigned in military court Wednesday on a variety of charges related to the expansive “Fat Leonard” corruption scandal.
Lt. Peter Vapor is charged with patronizing prostitutes, adultery, violating a lawful order, making false official statements and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman that stems from when he was stationed in Singapore in 2012 and 2013.
Vapor is a supply officer who was assigned to Logistics Group Western Pacific at the time. Military charge sheets say Vapor wrongfully accepted prostitutes, meals and drinks from Leonard Francis, the owner and chief executive of Glenn Defense Marine Asia.
Francis’ nickname is “Fat Leonard,” and he pleaded guilty in 2015 to presiding over a conspiracy involving “scores” of Navy officials, tens of millions of dollars in fraud, and millions of dollars in bribes and gifts in return for lucrative contracts to provide services to ships while in Southeast Asia, according to the Justice Department.
The Justice Department has secured guilty pleas from 20 of 29 defendants charged in the bribery and fraud scandal, while the Navy has secured one guilty plea among the five sailors it has charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
While the Justice Department is pursuing the case in federal court in San Diego, the military is trying each of its cases at Naval Station Norfolk. U.S. Fleet Forces Command, based in Norfolk, is the convening authority in each military case. Vapor’s charges include lying that he had never seen or heard of anyone taking gifts, bribes or prostitutes from Francis or employees of Glenn Defense Marine Asia, and denying that he had ever interacted with Francis.
During Vapor’s hearing Wednesday, he didn’t enter a plea or decide whether he wants his case to be decided by a military judge alone or a panel of officers.
Vapor’s general court-martial is scheduled to begin May 14. If convicted of all charges, he faces a maximum possible sentence of 19 years confinement, dismissal from the Navy, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, and a fine. Prior to the charges that were issued in August, Vapor had a distinguished military career that began in 1990 and resulted in numerous commendations and medals, including one for good conduct.
Vapor became an officer in 2005 and is currently assigned to Naval Construction Group One in Port Hueneme, Calif. He previously spent more than a decade within the aviation community in Whidbey Island, Wash.; Point Mugu, Calif.; Lemoore, Calif.; and Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
His other assignments included the frigate USS Thach and Naval Air Station Sigonella in Italy, where he was a fuels officer.
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