Navy bribery scheme mastermind escapes house arrest weeks before sentencing

The fugitive takes place just three weeks before his sentencing.

The Pretrial Service, the federal agency overseeing Frances’ house arrest, called San Diego police on Sunday to check on him, Superintendent Deputy Marshal Omar Castillo told CNN. When police found Francis’ home empty, they contacted U.S. Marshals, Castillo said.

When a team of U.S. Marshals visited Frances’ home on Sunday, the only thing they found was an ankle bracelet he had cut off and left in a portable cooler.

According to Castillo, neighbors told U.S. Marshals they recently saw several U-Haul trucks at Frances’ home.

“It looks like he’s been planning this for a while,” he told CNN.

San Diego’s Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force, run by the U.S. Sheriff’s Department, is looking for Francis.

Castillo said the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) was also involved because it was working on the original case.

“There are some clues that we are following,” Castillo said.

San Diego Union Tribune first reported that Francis had escaped house arrest.

Nicknamed because he weighed 400 pounds at the time, Frances pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud charges in 2015.

The corruption scandal investigation began in 2013 and touched on Pacific capitals and ports, including Singapore, Tokyo, Bangkok and Manila. During the investigation, multiple Navy officials were arrested and offered cash, prostitutes, and all expenses in exchange for steering ships into ports run by Francis’ contractors and providing services such as fuel and tugs. I was accused of receiving a paid trip.

CNN has reached out to the San Diego U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI. A lawyer for Francis declined to comment when contacted by the San Diego Union-Tribune on Monday.


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