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Monday, July 25, 2022

Villager who served as local GOP leader convicted in federal Navy bribery case

A Villager who served as a local GOP leader has been convicted in a federal Navy bribery case.

Retired U.S. Navy Captain David Lausman was found guilty Wednesday along with other former U.S. Navy captains from the Seventh Fleet of accepting bribes from Singapore-based foreign defense contractor Leonard Francis and his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA.)

Lausman is a resident of the Village of Bridgeport at Lake Sumter and previously served as president of The Villages Republican Club. The 67-year-old was convicted of charges including bribery and obstruction of justice. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Retired Navy Capt. David Lausman is a resident of the Village of Bridgeport at Lake Sumter.

U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino set a status hearing for July 21 for Lausman and the other defendants. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 11.

Lausman, who was known as “Too Tall,” served as executive officer of the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, commanding Officer of U.S.S. Blue Ridge, and commanding officer of the U.S.S. George Washington.

“This is a fleecing and betrayal of the United States Navy in epic proportions, and it was allegedly carried out by the Navy’s highest-ranking officers,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson in 2017 at the time of Lausman’s indictment with fellow defendants. “The alleged conduct amounts to a staggering degree of corruption by the most prominent leaders of the Seventh Fleet – the largest fleet in the U.S. Navy – actively worked together as a team to trade secrets for sex, serving the interests of a greedy foreign defense contractor, and not those of their own country.”

Lausman, reportedly worked in concert to help Francis and GDMA win and keep defense contracts to provide port services to U.S. Navy ships; to redirect ships to ports controlled by Francis in Southeast Asia so he could overbill the Navy for supplies and services such as food, water, fuel, tugboats, and sewage removal; to sabotage competing defense contractors; to recruit new members for the conspiracy by spreading the “Glenn Gospel” to incoming Seventh Fleet leaders; and to keep the conspiracy secret by using fake names and foreign email service providers.

Capt. David Lausman greets young girls during a visit to Korea.

The original indictment alleged that:

• During the U.S.S. Blue Ridge’s port visit to Sydney Australia on June 17, 2007, Francis hosted and paid for a dinner event at the Altitude Restaurant within the Shangri-La Hotel. Some of the defendants dined on saute of scallops, foie gras, and beef loin for a cost of $11,898. During dinner, one captain handed Francis two floppy disks containing classified port visit information for many U.S. Navy ships, according to the indictment.

• In March 2007, Francis hosted and paid for a multi-course dinner for several of the defendants at the Oak Door in Tokyo, Japan. The menu included foie gras, Lobster Thermidor, Sendai Tenderloin, and for dessert, Liberte Sauvage, the winning cake of the 10th Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie 2007, followed by cognac and cigars. Each course was paired with fine champagne or wine. Attendees posed for photographs wearing custom-made GDMA neckties that Francis had given them as gifts.

• During one port visit in Singapore on March 9, 2006, Francis seduced the leaders of the Seventh Fleet with foie gras terrine, duck leg confit, ox-tail soup, roasted Chilean sea bass, paired with expensive wine and champagne, followed by digestifs and cigars. The extravagance included $600-a-bottle Hennessy Private Reserve, $2,000-a-bottle Paradis Extra and $2,000-a-box Cohiba Cigars.

According to the indictment, the group of officers referred to themselves using various terms, such as “the Cool Kids,” “the Band of Brothers,” “the Brotherhood,” “the Wolfpack,” “the familia,” and “the Lion King’s Harem.” The officers tried to conceal their corrupt relationships by using fictitious names to create email addresses using foreign-based email services.

In addition to performing various official acts in return for Francis’s booty, these officers were also accused of violating many of the sworn official duties required of them as Navy officers, including duties related to the handling of classified information and duties related to the identification and reporting of foreign intelligence threats.

The Villages Republican Club president David Lausman, left, in 2017 and then-chairman of the Republican Party of Florida Blaise Ingoglia.

The U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet represents a vital piece of the United States military’s projection of power as well as American foreign policy and national security. The largest numbered fleet in the U.S. Navy, the Seventh Fleet comprises 60-70 ships, 200-300 aircraft and approximately 40,000 Sailors and Marines. The Seventh Fleet is responsible for U.S. Navy ships and subordinate commands which operate in the Western Pacific Ocean throughout Southeast Asia, Pacific Islands, Australia, Russia, and the Indian Ocean territories, as well as ships and personnel from other U.S. Navy Fleets that enter the Seventh Fleet’s area of responsibility. The U.S.S. Blue Ridge is the command-and-control ship of the Seventh Fleet and housed at-sea facilities for Seventh Fleet senior officials.

During the trial, Commander Stephen Shedd, former Lieutenant Commander Edmond A. Aruffo, U.S. Navy Captain Jesus Vasquez Cantu and former Lieutenant Commander Alexander Bryan Gillett of the Royal Australian Navy, testified about the alleged bribery scheme.

Also found guilty on Thursday were former U.S. Navy Captains David Newland and James Dolan and former Commander Mario Herrera – all of whom once served in the Navy’s Seventh Fleet.

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