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‘Fat Leonard,’ architect of US Navy bribery scheme, arrested in Venezuela

A man who masterminded one of the largest corruption scandals in the history of the U.S. Navy was arrested in Venezuela on Tuesday after 16 days on the run, authorities said Wednesday.

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Leonard Glenn Francis, a Malaysian defense contractor known as “Fat Leonard,” fled home arrest in San Diego earlier this month. According to the U.S. Marshals Service, he was arrested Tuesday morning as he attempted to board an airplane at the Caracas international airport, The San Diego-Union Tribune reported.

According to the newspaper, the arrest was made after Interpol, the international policing agency, had issued a “red notice,” Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Omar Castillo said.

Francis allegedly cut off an ankle bracelet on Aug. 4 and fled his San Diego home where he was under house arrest, according to The Washington Post. He pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribing Navy officials in a $35 million scandal, NBC News reported.

Carlos Garate Rondon, director general of Interpol Venezuela, posted on Instagram that Francis was headed to Russia, according to NBC News. He had traveled through Mexico and Cuba and was captured at Simón Bolívar International Airport in Caracas, the Union-Tribune reported.

Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribing Navy officials in a $35 million scandal. He ran a military contracting firm that serviced U.S. Navy ships in ports that he controlled in Southeast Asia and was charged with bribing U.S. Navy officials after a federal sting operation in 2013.

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