WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Navy officer pleaded guilty to bribery in federal court on Wednesday in the latest development in a widening corruption scandal, admitting he gave classified information to a defense contracting executive in exchange for prostitution services and other benefits.
Lieutenant Commander Todd Malaki, 44, of San Diego, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchell Dembin of the Southern District of California to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, the U.S. Justice Department said.
The case involved Leonard Glenn Francis, a Malaysian businessman accused of bribing high-ranking U.S. Navy officers to steer millions of dollars of contract services to his company. He pleaded guilty to corruption charges in federal court in San Diego in January.
Malaki is the eighth person to plead guilty in the expanding probe into corruption and fraud in the U.S. Navy, the department said.
Malaki admitted that while he was working as a supply officer for the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet in 2006 he began a corrupt relationship with Francis, the former president and CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), a company that provided services to the U.S. Navy, the department said.
Malaki gave Francis classified U.S. Navy ship schedules and proprietary invoicing information about GDMA's competitors, and in exchange received luxury hotel stays in Singapore, Hong Kong and Tonga, the services of a prostitute and envelopes of cash, the department said. The total value of these benefits was about $15,000, the department said.
"Another Navy officer has now pleaded guilty and admitted to taking bribes to reveal classified military information to a major supplier," Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said in a statement.
"It is both troubling and disappointing how many Navy officers we have exposed as willingly falling prey to GDMA's corruption, and our investigation remains active and ongoing," Caldwell added.
Malaki is due to be sentenced on July 6.
(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Ted Botha)