U.S. prosecutors have accused a third senior U.S. Navy official in a widening bribery probe involving millions of dollars in excess charges for refueling and supplying U.S. fleet ships in Asian ports.
A Justice Department statement said Navy Commander Jose Luis Sanchez was arrested early Wednesday in Florida. He was charged with accepting prostitutes, luxury travel and $100,000 from a foreign defense contractor in exchange for classified and internal Navy information.
This arrest is the latest development in a sweeping probe of a massive overbilling scheme allegedly orchestrated by Singapore-based defense contractor Glen Defense Marine Asia.
The probe, first reported last month in the Washington Post, has so far led to the arrests of a senior agent for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and another Navy commander who captained a U.S. destroyer. Another commander ensnared in the probe was relieved last month in Japan of his ship's command.
Prosecutors allege Sanchez took bribes in return for providing sensitive information on ship deployments. The officer also is accused of recommending specific ports at which aircraft carriers, submarines and other ships would refuel and resupply. Those ports were serviced by Glen Defense Marine Asia.
Court records show GDMA chief executive Leonard Glenn Francis and another company official were arrested in September in San Diego, after federal investigators lured them to the United States by arranging a sham meeting with Navy officials.
GDMA has serviced navies in Asia for a quarter century, and authorities say the company has been awarded U.S. contracts worth more than $200 million.