Former US Navy Captain Pleads Guilty to Accepting Nearly $68,000 in Bribes

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
February 3, 2022 Updated: February 3, 2022

A former U.S. Navy captain on Wednesday pleaded guilty to bribery for accepting nearly $68,000 from a foreign defense contractor.

Donald Hornbeck, 61, admitted in San Diego federal court to receiving at least $67,830 in bribes in extravagant dinners, hotels, parties, and prostitutes from foreign defense contractor Leonard Francis, while he directed the operations of combatant ships in the Seventh Fleet in the Western Pacific.

According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he accepted the bribes in exchange for breaching his official duty to the U.S. Navy. He also acknowledged that he shared confidential Navy information with Francis.

Hornbeck is one of 34 Navy officials and defense contractors, including Francis, accused of a fraud and bribery scheme that among other things provided Glenn Defense Marine Asia with classified ship schedules, allowing them to beat competitors and overcharge for services.

Twenty-nine defendants have pleaded guilty. All have admitted collectively to accepting millions of dollars in luxury travel and accommodation, meals, lavish gifts, or services of prostitutes, among other things, from Francis in exchange for helping its Singapore-based company Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) win and maintain contracts and overbill the Navy by over $35 million.

“While scores of Navy officials were partying with Leonard Francis, a massive breach of national security was in full swing,” U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said in a statement. “Today another participant has admitted that he lost his way, allowing greed to replace honor and duty as the driving force in his life.”

“Mr. Hornbeck abdicated the standards, responsibilities, and ideals required of a senior U.S. Navy officer over a multi-year period solely to enrich himself and others by willfully facilitating a corrupt Navy contractor’s years’ long fraud against the U.S. Government,” Kelly P. Mayo, the director of the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, said in a statement.

NCIS Director Omar Lopez said Hornbeck “betrayed his oath to the Navy.”

Hornbeck “deserves to be held fully accountable for his criminal actions to accept lavish gifts from Mr. Francis in exchange for influencing ship schedules in favor of ports that Mr. Francis preferred and otherwise prioritizing the business interests of GDMA and Mr. Francis over those of the Navy,” he said in a statement.

Hornbeck, of Greenfield, Indiana, is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 8. He could face up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.