SAN DIEGO (AP) — A change-of-plea hearing was scheduled Tuesday for a manager of a Singapore-based defense company implicated in a multimillion-dollar bribery scheme involving U.S. Navy personnel.
Alex Wisidagama, who was arrested last year on fraud charges, will appear before a federal judge in San Diego at 2 p.m. Tuesday, according to the court calendar. His lawyer, Knut Johnson, did not immediately return email and phone messages asking whether Wisidagama had agreed to plead guilty to the charges.
Wisidagama served as the general manager of global government contracts for Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd., or GDMA, which is accused of overbilling the Navy by at least $20 million for port services. He is the cousin of Leonard Glenn Francis, the CEO of GDMA who is known in military circles as "Fat Leonard."
It is unclear what his change in plea could mean for Francis, who has pleaded not guilty in the case that involves allegations Navy officials accepted pricey vacations and prostitute services in exchange for providing information and advice to GDMA, including changing ship routes to ports where the company could more easily pull off its scheme.
Wisidagama knew the company submitted hundreds of false bids, allegedly from competitors, for items ranging from fuel to trash collection to the U.S. Navy, prosecutors said. He was also aware that the company inflated fuel prices and submitted invoices for tariffs from non-existent port authorities so GDMA could overbill the Navy, according to the complaint.
At least six naval officers have been implicated in the scheme. Two commanders were arrested and charged. Two Navy admirals have lost their security clearances, and two other Navy officials have been relieved of their duties. But they have not been charged.
Navy Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez and Cmdr. Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz have entered not-guilty pleas.
An agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, John Beliveau II, pleaded guilty in the case to bribery charges. Officials had said his plea deal could expand the investigation if he cooperates with authorities as part of the agreement.
Beliveau acknowledged keeping Francis up to speed of the yearslong fraud investigation that NCIS agents were conducting into GDMA.
In exchange, Francis paid for plane tickets, hotels and prostitutes for Beliveau, 44, according to the plea agreement.
GMDA has been offering services to the Navy for more than two decades in Asia.