Jeffrey Breslau, 52, the former director of public affairs for the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, has been sentenced to six months in federal custody for his role in a far-ranging corruption scandal.
By day, from 2009 to 2012, Breslau was a top Navy spokesman in Hawaii, helping devise the communications strategy for the U.S. Defense Department for the Pacific region.
But on the side, Breslau took in more than $65,000 in consulting fees by authoring emails and preparing talking points for a Malaysian defense contractor, Leonard Glenn Francis, known as “Fat Leonard,” who had been accused of bilking the federal government of tens of millions of dollars, prosecutors said.
Francis was well-known in the Navy hierarchy for throwing wild parties to entertain naval officers working overseas.
Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribery and fraud charges, having presided over a conspiracy that involved dozens of Navy officials whom he bribed with money, lavish gifts, luxury travel and the services of prostitutes. It has been called the biggest naval corruption scandal in U.S. history.
The investigation has reverberated in Hawaii because the Pacific Fleet is based in Honolulu, and many of the participants lived or worked in Hawaii at some point.
In November, Breslau, who is from Georgia, pleaded guilty to one count of criminal conflict of interest, admitting that while he was still employed by the Navy, he worked with Francis in preparing communications to U.S. government officials to help Francis try to fend off allegations of misconduct.
“Breslau was secretly advocating for Leonard Francis behind the backs of his Navy colleagues,” said U.S. Attorney Robert S. Brewer Jr., in a statement. “Breslau’s deceit was part of an astounding culture of corruption that has been exposed and eliminated as a result of this historic investigation.”
In one email exchange with Francis, Breslau described himself as Francis’ “priest,” because their relationship was kept confidential.
In another email, Breslau urged Francis “not to compromise” him with other Navy officers by telling them what he was doing for Francis.
On another occasion, Francis thanked Breslau for his work drafting emails for Francis’ use, expressing appreciation for what they called “ghost-writing.”
“Thanks for the compliment with regards to the ghost emails,” Breslau responded. “Glad to help.”
According to prosecutors, Breslau authored, reviewed or edited at least 33 documents for Francis; wrote at least 135 emails; and provided talking points on 14 occasions.
So far, 33 defendants from throughout the Seventh Fleet have been charged in the scandal, and 22 have pleaded guilty, including 18 who were Navy officers. Many had hoped to be employed by Francis after they retired from the Navy.
Francis, through his Singapore-based ship husbanding company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, had many lucrative contracts for providing services to U.S. Navy ships in ports overseas.
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A Kailua girl, Kirstin Downey is a special correspondent for Civil Beat. A longtime reporter for The Washington Post, she is the author of "The Woman Behind the New Deal," "Isabella the Warrior Queen" and an upcoming biography of King Kaumualii of Kauai. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.