Three U.S. Navy admirals censured in bribery scandal

By Marty Graham

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy censured three admirals in connection with a bribery scandal involving a Singapore company that held more than $200 million in contracts to clean and supply ships from the Seventh Fleet, Navy officials confirmed on Monday.

Admirals Michael Miller and Terry Kraft were allowed to retire as admirals, while Admiral David Pimpo retired on July 1 at the demoted rank of captain, according to a Navy document dated July 17.

The censures were issued in January, but were revealed last week in response to Freedom of Information Act requests from the San Diego Union Tribune newspaper. They are the latest developments in the investigation of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) and its owner, Leonard Glenn Francis.

Seven people, including Francis, have pleaded guilty so far in the scandal. Francis and two GDMA employees have pleaded guilty, as well as four U.S. Navy officers, ranging from a Navy Criminal Investigative Services agent to a logistics manager, a captain and a ship commander.

Francis is now cooperating with federal investigators, according to court documents.

He has admitted to providing envelopes of cash, high-end electronics, lavish travel and accommodations, and prostitutes for U.S. Navy personnel in exchange for sending him business, information on ship movements, and investigations into his company, as well as other classified materials.

Pimpo was demoted to captain, according to the Navy documents. In 2007, he was the supply officer for the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan. Pimpo admitted to investigators that in 2007 he solicited luxury travel from Francis, and that he paid $50 each for two dinners at Singapore restaurants that should have cost almost $24,000, or about $770 per person.

According to the censure letter, Pimpo also secured free luxury hotel rooms for two weeks in 2007 for "senior carrier Strike Group Seven leadership."

Miller, then the commander of the Ronald Reagan, attended some of the 2007 dinner parties and then recommended GDMA as a "superior contractor to its competitors" just days later.

Kraft, then the Strike Group commander, also attended dinner parties and afterward opined in a report that GDMA "is the best in the world and is unrivaled in the delivery of customer service."

In May, federal prosecutors said they are looking at as many as 200 people as potential defendants and witnesses in the prosecution of Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, who has pleaded innocent to charges of conspiracy and bribery.

(Reporting by Marty Graham; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Lisa Lambert)