The admiral who oversaw the failed war crimes case against Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher was investigated for accepting gifts during what became known as the Navy’s “Fat Leonard” scandal.
A female officer on board the USS Salvor, a salvage ship, accepted freebies, including a hotel room stay, dinner, drinks, a golf outing, and entertainment, from a military contractor while in Kota Kinablu, Malaysia, in August 1998, according to Navy documents reviewed by the San Diego Union-Tribune.
While Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar’s name was redacted from the documents, the deep sea diver was the commanding officer of the Salvor at the time. Safeguard-class ships such as the Salvor are usually only assigned six officers, and Bolivar’s biography matches that of the female officer described in the documents.
A Navy spokesman contacted by the Washington Examiner would not confirm or deny that Bolivar was the officer referenced in the report.
Hundreds of Navy personnel were alleged to have taken gifts from Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis, the head of military contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia. The company was the Navy’s primary servicer in the region for more than 10 years, providing sewage removal, fuel, food, and other services for ships in the Pacific.
Adm. Philip Davidson said in a memo that the unidentified officer matching Bolivar’s description should remain in command and “continued to be a significant contributor and valued leader in the Navy.” He wrote that he had dealt with the matter through “administrative action.”
Adm. John Richardson, chief of naval operations, took over from Bolivar as the convening authority in the Gallagher case Saturday.
Two days earlier, he had removed her authority over the case of Lt. Jacob Portier and dismissed the charges against him. Portier was Gallagher’s superior officer and had been accused of helping him cover up his alleged crimes.
Richardson also on Thursday ordered an investigation into the Navy’s Judge Advocate General corps. President Trump last week ordered Navy officials to rescind Navy Achievement Medals given to the prosecutors who failed to secure a conviction in the Gallagher case.
Gallagher’s court-martial for various war crimes, including murdering an injured teenage ISIS fighter while deployed to Iraq in 2017, ended earlier this year with a jury finding him not guilty of all charges except unlawfully taking a picture with the corpse of the fighter. The sentence included a reduction in rank from chief petty officer to petty officer first class, though Navy rules would ultimately take him down to E-1 should Richardson confirm the verdict.
Gallagher’s defense team wants the reduction in rank reversed so he can retire with full benefits. Lead defense attorney Tim Parlatore told the Washington Examiner he feels confident about his client’s chances now that Richardson has taken authority, though he admitted anything is possible.
“Nobody’s ever heard of the CNO taking over a case,” Parlatore said.