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Cambodian-US Naval Officer Maintains ‘Not Guilty’ Plea


In this photo taken Dec. 3, 2010, U.S. navy officer Michael "Vannak Khem" Misiewicz smiles as he delivers his welcome speech on the deck of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Mustin at Cambodian coastal international see port of Sihanoukville, about 220 kilometers (137 miles) southwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Misiewicz finally returned home Friday as commander of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Mustin, reuniting with the relatives who wondered whether they would ever see him alive, and the aunt who helped arrange his adoption. His ship departs Monday. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

In this photo taken Dec. 3, 2010, U.S. navy officer Michael "Vannak Khem" Misiewicz smiles as he delivers his welcome speech on the deck of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Mustin at Cambodian coastal international see port of Sihanoukville, about 220 kilometers (137 miles) southwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Misiewicz finally returned home Friday as commander of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Mustin, reuniting with the relatives who wondered whether they would ever see him alive, and the aunt who helped arrange his adoption. His ship departs Monday. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, who faces corruption charges for allegedly giving sensitive information to a Singaporean contractor and costing the Navy millions of dollars, has maintained a “not guilty” plea, despite his being named by the contractor in a wide-reaching bribery scandal.

Two officers so far have pled guilty, and the contractor, Leonard Francis, has entered a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Vannak Khem, who was born in Cambodia but raised in the US, is expected to face arraignment today at a federal court in San Diego on additional counts of bribery.

Prosecutors say the naval officers rerouted ships to ports owned by Francis, also known as “Fat Leonard,” who allegedly then overcharged for services, in exchange for lavish gifts, prostitutes and plane tickets.

In a plea agreement, Francis named Vannak Khem as one of the officers who took bribes, according to a statement from the US attorney for the Southern District of California, in San Diego.

“Francis also said Misciewicz provided classified and proprietary Navy information on dozens of occasions and in return, he gave cash and paid travel expenses for Misciewicz,” the statement says. “The plea agreement lists eight examples.”

“It is astounding that Leonard Francis was able to purchase the integrity of Navy officials by offering them meaningless material possessions and the satisfaction of selfish indulgences,” US Attorney Laura Duffy said in the statement. “In sacrificing their honor, these officers helped Francis defraud their country out of tens of millions of dollars. Now they will be held to account.”

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