Published: September 18, 2013
A Navy commander assigned to U.S. Northern Command was arrested in a bribery scheme that included trading classified information on ship movements for stays in luxury hotels and the services of prostitutes.
Cmdr. Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, accepted the bribes while he was assigned to the 7th Fleet in the Pacific, federal prosecutors alleged in a news release. Misiewicz, who worked in Northern Command's program analysis office, made an initial Appearance in federal court in Denver Wednesday.
"The complaints allege that Leonard Glenn Francis, the CEO of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd, paid U.S. Navy Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz and NCIS Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau II with luxury travel and prostitutes in exchange for confidential information and other assistance in relation to hundreds of millions of dollars in Navy contracts," the U.S. Attorney's office in San Diego announced in the news release
A spokesman at U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base referred all questions on Misiewicz to Navy officials at the Pentagon.
Prosecutors say Francis' firm secured Navy contracts for port services - providing everything ships would need in port from supplies to security. The firm used insider information from Misiewicz to do business and also relied on Misiewicz, a 1992 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, to push Glenn Defense Marine Asia for contracts, prosecutors say.
"As the deputy operations officer, Misiewicz had high-level exposure to the operational planning for ships in the Seventh Fleet and for any U.S. Navy ship traveling through the Seventh Fleet's area of responsibility," prosecutors said in a news release. "He also held influence in determining or modifying the schedule of port visits for U.S. Navy vessels."
As investigators closed in on Glenn Defense Marine Asia, prosecutors say Francis began bribing Beliveau for information on the probe.
"Beliveau also allegedly provided Francis guidance as to how to deal with NCIS inquiries," prosecutors said. "In exchange, Francis provided Beliveau with, among other things, paid travel, luxury hotel stays and prostitution services."
Each defendant in the scheme faces a maximum of five years behind bars.
Before coming to Northern Command, Misiewicz was best known for leading a well-publicized port visit of a destroyer under his command to Cambodia, the nation of his birth.
"The port visit will mark the first time in 37 years that Cmdr. Michael Vannak Khem Misiewics has returned to the land of his birth," the Navy said of the 2010 event in a news release.
"As a young Cambodian boy born and living in the rice fields outside of the capital Phnom Penh in the late 1960's/early 1970s, Misiewicz - whose birth name was Vannak Khem - was not aware of the political tension building up around him. When his country plunged into turmoil, his family reluctantly gave him up for adoption to a young American woman who worked at the U.S. Embassy, allowing him to escape before the Khmer Rouge regime took over the country, eventually causing millions of deaths in what is known as the 'Killing Fields'."
Federal prosecutors say Misiewicz and the other defendants will be brought to San Diego for trial.