Indicted military contractor 'Fat Leonard' disappears ahead of sentencing
Photo: U.S. Navy

The San Diego Tribune reported that Leonard Francis, aka "Fat Leonard," a Malaysian military contractor known for his girth, severed his GPS monitoring ankle device over the holiday weekend and when U.S. Marshals arrived at his home, it was completely empty.

Francis' company was offering gifts to U.S. Navy officials who helped score major contracts for the company leading to a scandal that resulted in a long-running investigation. The wealthy "playboy" ultimately used hookers and cash to influence most of the U.S. Seventh Fleet while taxpayers footed the bill.

Francis was arrested in 2013 and pleaded guilty in 2015 to 22 felony counts that involved bribing high-ranking naval officers and scoring $35 million in overcharges from the U.S. government. Due to health issues, Francis was allowed out of jail on furlough in 2018 under the release of Pretrial Services.

One of those was "a retired two-star admiral who had been nominated for a senior job in the Trump administration who has been torpedoed for his involvement in the “Fat Leonard” corruption scandal," two Navy officials told the Washington Post in 2018.

He reportedly "took action to financially benefit" Francis' company between 2007 and 2009 after getting gifts while commanding a destroyer squadron in Asia. He then lied about it to investigators when questioned.

By the end of the cases in June, four high-ranking Navy officials were convicted in what has become the largest corruption case in naval history, NPR reported.

While under house arrest in southern California, the federal government finalized its investigation and tried the cases. After the June verdict, Francis was set to leave House arrest and begin his sentencing at the end of the month. But on Sunday, Francis removed the GPS device, triggering police. That afternoon at 2 p.m., the police reached out to the Marshal's office.

Neighbors told police that there was a U-Haul that was moving things out of the home, Supervisory Deputy U.S. Marshal Omar Castillo told the press.

“He was planning this out, that’s for sure,” Castillo said.

Law enforcement around the country has been alerted to keep an eye out for Francis at airports and the border and they're on the hunt for the U-haul license through license plate readers. But Castillo confessed that he may already have made it across.