First military case in Navy bribery scandal begins

Posted at 1:12 PM, Jun 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-26 13:12:08-04

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- The Navy has charged one of its commanders with accepting gifts and sex with prostitutes from a Malaysian defense contractor.

Prosecutors alleged at a preliminary hearing in Norfolk, Virginia, on Monday that Cmdr. David Alexander Morales accepted bottles of champagne, $5,000 meals and sex. They said Morales helped Singapore-based businessman Leonard Francis, nicknamed "Fat Leonard," secure lucrative contracts to service U.S. Navy ships in Asian ports.

The case against the 49-year-old Morales is the first to be prosecuted in a military court. The Justice Department has already charged 25 people in civilian court. They include Francis and current and former Navy officials.

Frank Spinner, Morales' attorney, told reporters the Navy has a weak case that federal officials weren't willing to prosecute. He said Morales will fight the Navy's graft and bribery charges.