Interpol captures U.S. fugitive 'Fat Leonard' Francis in Venezuela, apparently en route to Russia

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Interpol has arrested Leonard Glenn Francis, the Malaysian defense contractor nicknamed "Fat Leonard" who escaped from U.S. home detention right before being sentenced for his central role in the largest bribery scandal in U.S. military history, U.S. Marshal Omar Castillo said Wednesday. Francis was arrested Tuesday morning in Venezuela, at the Caracas airport awaiting a flight to Russia, Interpol Venezuela Director General Carlos Garate Rodon said. He arrived in Venezuela from Mexico.

Francis, who cut off his GPS ankle monitor and fled from his San Diego home on Sept. 4, was scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday. He was arrested in 2013 and pleaded guilty to bribing Navy officers to ports serviced by his company. Francis' plea deal required him to cooperate with prosecutors and return $35 million in ill-gotten profits. His cooperation helped convict nearly three dozen Navy personnel, including four Naval officers, but he still owes the U.S. government $30 million, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports, citing a lawyer for one of the convicted officers.

In return, Francis would get a significant reduction in his prison sentence. "That agreement is likely void now," the Union-Tribune notes. Francis was arrested on an Interpol "red notice" after an international manhunt, and he now awaits extradition to the U.S., a process that could take some time.

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