Ex-Admiral Who Chose 'Karaoke Over Character' Hears Fate

Navy's Robert Gilbeau sentenced to 18 months in prison for lying in bribery case
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2017 9:02 AM CDT
1.5 Years in Prison for Ex-Navy Admiral in 'Fat Leonard' Case
This undated photo provide by the US Navy shows former US Navy Rear Adm. Robert Gilbeau.   (Courtesy US Navy via AP)

An ex-admiral in the US Navy who served his country for nearly four decades was "tempted by parties and prostitutes" and ultimately chose "karaoke over character," US prosecutors say, and he's now been sentenced to 18 months behind bars for that choice. Reuters reports that 56-year-old Robert Gilbeau, the first active-duty admiral to be handed a conviction for a federal crime, had pleaded guilty in 2016 to lying when federal agents asked him if he'd received gifts from one "Fat Leonard"—aka Leonard Francis, a foreign defense contractor in Singapore. Per a Justice Department statement, prosecutors say Gilbeau, who had a relationship with Francis that spanned two decades, was showered with fine dining experiences, stays at high-end hotels, and cash, and that the two men often partied together at karaoke bars and clubs, all on Francis' tab.

In exchange, prosecutors note, Gilbeau awarded Francis lucrative contracts for services such as waste removal from US ships. Gilbeau reportedly started trashing files and documents tying him to Francis when he found out Francis and others had been arrested in 2013. In a San Diego federal courtroom on Wednesday, US District Judge Janis Sammartino told Gilbeau, "You dishonored your shipmates, the Navy, and the United States of America." The Washington Post says Gilbeau offered a shaky, "To the Navy, I want to say I am sorry." Gilbeau's attorney notes his client's Bronze Star and Purple Heart to Reuters and says: "We respectfully disagree with the court's sentencing decision." Gilbeau, now free on bond, will sign in at the Federal Bureau of Prisons on June 23. Francis, meanwhile, faces up to 25 years in prison on bribery and conspiracy charges. (Another military scandal, this one involving nude pictures.)

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