A rear admiral in the U.S. Navy will plead guilty in San Diego federal court Thursday to a felony charge of making a false statement in connection with an ongoing bribery scandal that has rocked the Navy, the admiral’s attorney confirmed in an interview.
Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau is the highest-ranking service member charged in connection with the probe.
Gilbeau’s attorney, David Benowitz, stressed that the admiral was admitting to making a false statement to investigators – not to the underlying charges of bribery that are at the heart of the scandal.
“Rear Admiral Gilbeau did in fact make a false statement during the course of an important investigation,” Benowitz said in a written statement provided to CNN Wednesday evening. “In this unfortunate situation, he accepts responsibility for the decisions he made and for his conduct.”
The statement said Gilbeau had a distinguished 37-year career in the Navy during which he was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Benowitz acknowledged that Gilbeau made a false statement when being questioned as part of a probe into a foreign defense contractor who allegedly won favorable treatment for his company by bribing Naval officers with prostitutes, luxury travel and others gifts.
The attorney would not disclose the statement that is the basis for the charge against Gilbeau. He declined further comment on the case.
The admiral is the latest in a string of Naval officers charged in connection with probe.
In March, a captain was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison for giving classified information to Leonard Glenn Francis, owner of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia, which for decades provided port services to U.S. Navy ships.
Capt. Daniel Dusek admitted that he used his influence as an officer to benefit Francis and his company in exchange for meals, alcohol, luxury hotel stays and the services of prostitutes.
In May, another captain, a commander and a lieutenant commander were charged with similar offenses as part of the widening probe.
“We continue to uncover far-reaching, troubling levels of corruption as this investigation expands,” Laura Duffy, the U.S. Attorney in San Diego, said at the time. “We will keep going until we are sure we have held accountable every person who traded integrity and honor for parties and prostitutes.”