SAN DIEGO (AP) — A former manager of a Singapore-based company servicing U.S. Navy ships has been sentenced to more than five years in prison after pleading guilty to a fraud scheme that overbilled the maritime branch by more than $34 million.
U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino in San Diego also ordered Alex Wisidagama to pay $34.8 million in restitution to the Navy.
The 42-year-old businessman was the global manager of Glenn Defense Marine Asia, or GDMA, and the cousin of its top executive, Leonard Glenn Francis. Francis, nicknamed "Fat Leonard" because of his wide girth, is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in one of the military's biggest bribery cases.
Ten people, including several Navy officers, have been charged in the case and all but one has pleaded guilty. Wisidagama is the third defendant to be sentenced.
In his plea agreement, he acknowledged creating false price quotations, invoices and other documents to carry out the scheme involving the sale of goods and fuel. He also inflated port tariff expenses.
His attorney, Knut S. Johnson, said 30 months would have been an appropriate sentence for his client. He said Wisidagama did not receive any of the Navy's money personally and does not have the means to pay back the military.
"I expect that no one living in Singapore with Mr. Wisidagama's earning potential after this case, (he is debarred from ever working on government contracts), could afford more than about $200.00 per month," Johnson said in an email to The Associated Press. "At that rate, he would repay the government for the money that went to Mr. Francis in 14,166 years."
Wisidagama has said the scheme cost the Navy more than $34 million. He admitted that in 2011 the company charged $2.7 million for servicing the USS Mustin during a port visit to Thailand, and more than $1.5 million were fraudulent charges, according to his plea agreement.
GDMA has serviced U.S. Navy ships in Asia for 25 years.
The investigation is ongoing and centers on Francis. He has admitted to providing an exhaustive list of gifts, including paying for prostitutes, concert tickets and luxury hotel stays for Navy officers in exchange for classified information that helped his company carry out the scheme.
Earlier this year, one the highest-ranking Naval officers charged in the case, Cmdr. Michael Misiewicz, pleaded guilty to bribery and admitted to diverting ships to Asian ports where the company either owned the port or the port had lax oversight, allowing GDMA to inflate prices, according to court documents.