Military News

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Active-Duty U.S. Navy Commander Pleads Guilty to Conspiring With Foreign Defense Contractor to Defraud the U.S. Navy



An active-duty U.S. Navy commander pleaded guilty today in connection with his efforts to obstruct a federal criminal investigation of the owner and chief executive officer of a multi-national defense contracting firm headquartered in Singapore.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson of the Southern District of California, Director Dermot O’Reilly of the Department of Defense’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and Director Andrew Traver of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) made the announcement.

Bobby Pitts, 48, of Chesapeake, Va., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. in connection with the NCIS’s investigation of Leonard Glenn Francis, the owner and CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA).  Pitts is set to be sentenced on December 1, by U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal of the Southern District of California, who accepted his plea today.

According to admissions made as part of his plea agreement, from August 2009 to May 2011, Pitts served as the officer in charge of the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Industrial Supply Command (FISC) in Singapore.  As part of his duties, Pitts learned that NCIS and several civilian employees of the U.S. Navy were investigating whether Francis was over-billing the U.S. Navy on ship husbanding contracts.  Pitts had access to internal U.S. Navy documents pertaining to investigative steps that the U.S. Navy was considering and admitted that he shared this information with Francis, with the intent to impede and obstruct the U.S. Navy’s oversight of its contracts with GDMA.  On Nov. 23, 2010, for example, Pitts forwarded to a representative of GDMA an internal U.S. Navy email discussing FISC’s intention to contact officials with the Royal Thai Navy to determine whether GDMA had been billing the U.S. Navy for services in fact rendered by the Thai government.

In pleading guilty, Pitts admitted, among other things, to working with Francis and other foreign-defense-contractor personnel to help them cover up GDMA’s overcharging practices with respect to providing protection to U.S. Navy forces deployed in the Western Pacific.

So far, 18 of 27 defendants charged in the U.S. Navy bribery and fraud scandal have pleaded guilty.  All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until convicted beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Chief Brian R. Young of the Fraud Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher and Patrick Hovakimian of the Southern District of California.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Brenau University Receives Seven Seals Award for Support of Guard and Reserve



ATLANTA (Aug. 15, 2017) – The U.S. Department of Defense organization that nurtures the support of military reservists from their private- and public-sector employers presented Brenau University on Friday, Aug. 11, with a Seven Seals Award for its encouragement and support for reservists.
Air National Guard Chief Master Sgt. Melissa Tavilla, who is human resource adviser for the 134th Air Refueling Wing at McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base near Knoxville, Tennessee, nominated the university for the prestigious Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve award. Tavilla is also office manager and administrator for the Brenau physical therapy doctoral program in Gainesville, Georgia. 

"I'm glad that Brenau was recognized with this award,” Tavilla said. “I hope we continue to acknowledge the unique contributions that veterans can add to the classroom and work environment.”
Tavilla, who first came to Brenau as an undergraduate, said she frequently had to ask professors for accommodations for some aspect of her military duty. 

"They always worked with me without any difficulty,” she said. “Now that I've been an employee for four years while continuing my military service, I can speak for two groups of veterans that Brenau is supportive of men and women of service.”

Tavilla, a 26-year military veteran, completed her undergraduate degree in conflict resolution and legal studies with honors, which earned her the Cora Anderson Hill Award for the Brenau Women’s College graduate with the highest grade point average at the 2015 commencement ceremony. A few months later, she was promoted to the Air National Guard’s highest enlisted rank
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At the ceremony Aug. 11, Brenau President Ed Schrader accepted the Seven Seals Award – named for the collection of emblems of the various U.S. military reserve organizations the ESGR organization represents. 

"Brenau University is grateful for this recognition,” said Schrader, “but we are extremely grateful for all  our men and women  – students, faculty and staff – who serve their country through active military duty and duty in reserves and National Guard units around the country. Just as they are doing their duty to the country, so are we doing our duty by providing any measure of assistance to them that we can provide.”  

Maj. Gen. Joe Jarrard, a Gainesville native who serves as Adjutant General of Georgia overseeing the state’s National Guard programs, said following the award ceremony that it is important for all employers in the state to support Guard and Reserve personnel as Brenau does.

"It is especially important because the National Guard personnel live in our state,” Jarrard said. “We have somebody that lives in every county in our state. We are hometown America, and we want the opportunity to make a good living. Those opportunities reside in the companies and institutions right here in our communities. We appreciate Brenau setting a great example and taking care of those that serve.”

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve was established in 1972 to develop and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service. ESGR advocates relevant initiatives, recognizes outstanding support, increases awareness of applicable laws, and resolves conflict between service members and employers.

Recognizing supportive employers is part of ESGR’s mission. These Department of Defense awards honor the sacrifices made by employers year after year.

It is not the first recognition Brenau has received for its support for military personnel. Last year, Tavilla nominated Kathye Light, chair of the physical therapy department, for ESGR’s Patriot Award, which Light received in December. And, the university is ranked one of the Best Colleges for Veterans in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and was designated as a Military Friendly School by Victory Media this year for the third consecutive year.

ABOUT BRENAU UNIVERSITY:  
Founded in 1878, Brenau University is a private, not-for-profit, nationally prominent comprehensive institution of higher education that enrolls students in graduate and undergraduate studies on campuses and online. Gainesville, Georgia-based Brenau includes the residential Women’s College, which represents the academic and philosophical liberal arts underpinnings of the university. Brenau also provides coeducational opportunities through the doctoral level, including on-ground programs in Georgia locales Gainesville, Augusta, Norcross and Fairburn as well as in Jacksonville, Florida. Brenau University offers doctorates in nursing, occupational therapy and physical therapy, a terminal M.F.A. in interior design, specialist in education, master’s, bachelor’s and associate’s degrees as well as professional certifications. The Women’s College boasts 14 nationally competitive intercollegiate Golden Tigers sports teams, national honor societies and national sororities with dedicated residential facilities on campus. The university provides outlets for artistic expression and community service for all students. Brenau possesses an extensive and distinctive permanent collection of art and presents year-round programming that includes art exhibitions, lectures, debates and literary readings, and theatrical and musical performances. For more information, please visit the website at www.brenau.edu.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Defense Contractor Employee Pleads Guilty to Selling Satellite Secrets to Undercover Agent Posing as Russian Spy



Today, Gregory Allen Justice, 49, of Culver City, California, pleaded guilty to federal charges of one count of attempting to commit economic espionage and one count of attempting to violate the Arms Export Control Act. The charges are related to Justice’s selling sensitive satellite information to a person he believed to be an agent of a Russian intelligence service. Justice was an engineer who worked for a cleared defense contractor. Specifically, he worked on military and commercial satellite programs.

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente and Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown for the Central District of California.

According to a plea agreement filed in this case, Justice stole proprietary trade secrets from his employer and provided them to a person he believed to be a Russian agent – but who in fact was an undercover FBI employee.

In addition to their proprietary nature, the documents contained technical data covered by the U.S. Munitions List and therefore were subject to controls restricting export from the U.S. under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

In exchange for providing these materials during a series of meeting between February and July of 2016, Justice sought and received thousands of dollars in cash payments. During one meeting, Justice and the undercover agent discussed developing a relationship like one depicted on the television show “The Americans,” and during their final meeting, Justice offered to take the undercover agent on a tour of his employer’s production facilities where Justice said all military spacecraft were built, according to the plea agreement.

Justice faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Justice pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge George Wu, who scheduled a sentencing hearing for September 18. Justice has been in custody since his arrest in July 2016.

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

Attorneys from the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.