October 14, 2016 - 6:42 PM
SAN DIEGO - A former federal agent was sentenced to 12 years in prison Friday for tipping off a defence contractor who was under investigation for overbilling the Navy by at least $35 million.
Former Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigator John Beliveau II was also ordered to pay $20 million in restitution.
Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Beliveau to 15 years, the harshest punishment sought yet in the bribery case that has led to charges against 16 people.
The defendants include nearly a dozen current and former Navy officials. Like Beliveau, prosecutors say, most of them were bought off with luxury hotel stays and the services of prostitutes provided by Malaysian contractor Leonard Francis.
Beliveau, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery, apologized in a letter to the court, adding he deserves and understands "the feeling of anger, vengeance and disgust from others in my former field." He asked for forgiveness and offered himself as an example of what not to do in law enforcement.
His attorney, Jessica Carmichael, said her client was targeted by Francis, a boisterous executive with Glenn Defence Marine Asia who is nicknamed "Fat Leonard."
Beliveau, 47, has suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder since he was 6, according to his attorney's court filings. He also has suffered from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and has had alcohol problems, Carmichael said.
She had asked the judge to sentence him to no more than a year in home confinement and the maximum period of supervised release.
"We were very disappointed that the government dismissed and belittled his mental health condition, calling it nonsense and an alphabet soup of disorders," Carmichael said outside court.
Beliveau was taken into custody immediately at his request.
Prosecutors say Beliveau shared hundreds of internal files with Francis about criminal investigations being conducted regarding his business, and in return GDMA executives arranged prostitutes, provided Beliveau up to $30,000 in cash, and sent him on trips around Asia.
Francis is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to bribing Navy officials with more than $500,000 in cash, sex workers, Cuban cigars, Kobe beef, model ships and others gifts in exchange for favours that helped him beat out competitors and overbill the Navy.
Beliveau met Francis after being assigned to Singapore in 2008. He was struggling after recovering from cancer treatments and later contracted dengue, Carmichael said.
"Mr. Beliveau has never had a friend or a romantic relationship because of his mental health disorders and Francis knew that and exploited that," she said.
In her court filings, Carmichael said: "Francis' extravagant parties provided a break from Mr. Beliveau's hellish reality. He found an escape from his depression during the lavish dinners and evenings with prostitutes. Mr. Beliveau became clinically obsessed with Francis and dependent on the momentary relief he could provide."
Prosecutors say Beliveau kept Francis abreast of investigations for years. In 2012, when he was made a supervisory agent, Beliveau emailed Francis after granting him two favours and not receiving anything in return and reminded the executive, "I will always be your friend but you will get nothing else ... until I get what you promise."
This story has been corrected to show that Beliveau shared internal documents, not classified documents.
News from © The Associated Press, 2016