The NCIS agent who acted as a mole inside his agency for a foreign defense contractor pleaded guilty today, admitting he made a "catastrophic mistake" in trading secret information for perks including luxury travel and hookers, the agent’s attorney told ABC News.
Naval Criminal Investigative Services Supervisory Special Agent John Beliveau II was charged in September with conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery for his role in what prosecutors called a "massive fraud" that has rocked the Navy in recent months.
According to prosecutors, Beliveau worked against the NCIS to protect a Singapore-based husbandry contractor called Glenn Defense Marine (Asia) (GDMA). The military and NCIS had launched multiple investigations into GDMA and its head, Malaysian national Leonard Francis, based on accusations of widespread bribery of other Naval officials. Beliveau allegedly gave GDMA confidential information about the NCIS investigations, including reports from the NCIS database, and advised the head of the company on how to best respond to investigative inquiries.
Beliveau provided those services for, "among other things, paid travel, luxury hotels stays and prostitution services," prosecutors allege.
"Instead of doing his job, John Beliveau was leaking confidential details of investigations to the target himself," U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said today in a press release. "This is an audacious violation of law for a decorated federal agent who valued personal pleasure over loyalty to his colleagues, the U.S. Navy and ultimately his own country. His admissions are a troubling reminder that corruption may exist even among those entrusted with protecting our citizens and upholding our laws."
Much of the government's case against Beliveau stemmed from colorful emails he allegedly exchanged with Francis, including one in which court documents say Beliveau wrote, "You give your whores more money than me ;)."
Three months after his arrest, Beliveau's attorney, Jessica Carmichael, told ABC News today Beliveau is "accepting responsibility" for what he did.
"He is prepared to move forward with his life," Carmichael said. "This is an uncharacteristic event in his life and a catastrophic mistake."
Carmichael declined to discuss the plea agreement further and declined to say if it meant Beliveau would be working with investigators on the larger case.
"John Beliveau's reprehensible actions... tragically tarnished his NCIS badge," NCIS Director Andrew Traver said. "Nevertheless, the tireless and dedicated work of NCIS and DCIS [Defense Criminal Investigative Service) effectively brought this to a halt, and these agencies continue to vigilantly protect Department of Navy personnel and resources."
Beliveau was among the first arrested in the ever-expanding bribery scandal. The same day he was taken into custody in September, authorities arrested Francis, known in Naval circles as "Fat Leonard," and Cambodian-born U.S. Navy Captain-Select Michael Misiewicz.
Francis stands at the epicenter of the investigation, accused of bribing multiple high-level officials with luxury travel, prostitutes and other perks including Lady Gaga tickets, in exchange for confidential information on ship movements and other favors that would help GDMA. GDMA provides Navy ships with port services like tug boats, waste disposal and fuel to the tune of millions of dollars per visit.
The scandal has reached as high as the head of Naval intelligence, Vice Adm. Ted Branch, whose access to classified material was revoked in October for his alleged link to GDMA. Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless was similarly suspended from accessing classified information as part of the same investigation.
"The allegations against Admirals Branch and Loveless involve inappropriate conduct prior to their current assignments and flag officer rank," the Navy said when announcing the suspensions. "There is no indication, nor do the allegations suggest, that in either case there was any breach of classified information."
In November a third Navy officer, Commander Jose Luis Sanchez, was arrested in Florida and charged with giving Francis classified information in exchange for prostitutes, luxury travel and $10,000 cash.
All those charged in the scandal so far, except Beliveau, have pleaded not guilty. Beliveau is scheduled to appear in a California court later today to make his guilty plea. He reportedly faces up to 20 years in prison.