YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan -- The former captain of the destroyer USS Mustin, a Navy special agent and a Singapore-based defense contractor have been arrested in connection with an alleged bribery scheme to swap classified ship information for luxury travel and prostitutes, U.S. prosecutors said Wednesday.
Cmdr. Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, a captain-select, who commanded Mustin and later served as deputy operations officer aboard the USS Blue Ridge for the Yokosuka-based U.S. 7th Fleet, was arrested Monday in Colorado, where he works at Peterson Air Force Base.
Naval Criminal Investigative Service supervisory agent John Bertrand Beliveau II was arrested in Virginia, and Leonard Glenn Francis, head of Glenn Defense Marine Asia, or GDMA, was arrested in San Diego on Monday, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Diego.
Misiewicz steered the aircraft carriers USS George Washington and USS John C. Stennis, the USS Blue Ridge and other ships to so-called “pearl ports” -- international ports with lax oversight -- where Francis’ company could overcharge the Navy for millions of dollars in services to moored ships, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday.
GDMA has been providing support services for more than 25 years, according to the complaint.
The accusations represent a stunning career turn for Misiewicz, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who received international media attention in 2010 for his personal story as an adopted Cambodian- American who returned to Cambodia at the USS Mustin’s helm.
When ships were headed to Singapore and other ports Francis considered less profitable, Misiewicz attempted to get port visits rescheduled to Francis’ ports of choice, including Sepangar, Malaysia, and Laem Chebang, Thailand.
“Misiewicz had high-level exposure to the operational planning for ships in the Seventh Fleet and for any U.S. Navy ship traveling through [7th Fleet’s] area of responsibility,” the complaint states. “Misiewicz also wielded influence in determining or modifying the schedule of port visits for U.S. Navy vessels.”
U.S. 7th Fleet officials referred all questions to the Justice Department on Wednesday.
When Stennis visited Sepangar in September 2012, Francis’ company billed the Navy $2.7 million for services. Two similar carrier visits to Malaysia in 2011 cost about half that figure, according to Defense Contract Auditing Agency data cited in the complaint.
In one case, according to an affidavit filed by a federal investigator, Misiewicz worked to have the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln sent to the port in Laem Chabang, where during a 2012 visit the Navy was overbilled $500,000 for port services.
Francis also tried to arrange tickets for Misiewicz and other sailors to a Lady Gaga concert in Thailand, and lamented that Misiewicz missed a group of female escorts that Francis referred to as his “Elite Thai Seal Team,” according to an email cited in the complaint.
Misiewicz commanded the USS Mustin from 2009 to 2011, according to a prior Navy statement. He served as 7th fleet deputy operations officer until April 2012, according to the court complaint.
Misiewicz’s next anticipated court date is Sept. 30 in San Diego, assistant U.S. attorney Mark Pletcher told Stars and Stripes on Wednesday. On Friday, a U.S. magistrate will determine whether Francis, a Malaysian national, is considered a flight risk.
Prosecutors have asked that Beliveau be transported to San Diego.
From 2008 to 2012, Beliveau was stationed in Singapore, where he was responsible for meeting Navy ships and ensuring force protection. He served as a personal security adviser to the commander of 7th Fleet in 2005-08.
In June 2010, GDMA submitted claims for $110,000 in dockage fees to the Navy for support related to annual exercises with the Royal Thai Navy -- despite a prior agreement between both countries that no fees would be charged. After an NCIS agent opened an investigation into the fees, Beliveau began illegally supplying Francis with sensitive information on the investigation, according to the complaint.
When NCIS began investigating GDMA’s ship support contract in Japan in 2010, Beliveau again communicated with Francis.
Between December 2011 and Aug. 5, Beliveau accessed sensitive networks 13 times to search for information on NCIS investigations into Francis’s contracts, the complaint says.
According to private e-mails cited in the criminal complaint, Francis also paid for Beliveau’s travel to Thailand, and set him up with a prostitute.