Santa Barbara, CA 93001
26 December 20xx
The Honorable Janis L. Tanner,
United States District Court Judge
U.S. District Court
Southern District of California
221 West Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101
Regarding: US. V. Jones, Case Number
Dear Judge Tanner,
My name is Robert Alan Jones. I am disgraced and ashamed. Rather than appearing before you as an honorable member of our military, I am a convicted criminal. Despite boyhood dreams of serving our country as a man of honor and dignity, I failed by breaking American laws. Now, instead of celebrating 26 years of service, I’m tormented with shame and humiliation because of bad decisions I made.
For the past year I’ve been contemplating and introspecting, trying to ascertain where I went wrong. In time, I will craft and execute a strategy to reconcile with society and atone for the reckless crimes I committed. That strategy begins with full disclosure.
Although I’ve pleaded guilty to serious crimes that impugn my integrity, I know that I owe so much more. I owe you, our military, and every American citizen a full explanation of who I am as a man and where I went wrong. That truth will bring the first step toward the rebuilding of my life.
Besides my current rank as a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy, I am a husband and a father of three children. Let me now share the path that led to my eventual disgrace.
My father is from a small town in the Philippines. He grew up poor, without much of an education and without many opportunities at home to advance his station in life. Fortunately, the US Coast Guard encouraged young men to sign up. My dad took an aptitude test and was accepted into a trainee program with the Coast Guard. He immigrated to the United States and began working as a mess boy in Maine.
In time, my dad became a US Citizen and was able to advance his career. He married mom, who was from a poor family in Clinton, Maine. My mom and dad began having children when they were in their early 20s. They had three boys and a girl before I was born, in 1971. When I was three, my father retired from the Coast Guard and moved our family back to the Philippines. His dream was always to go back after his service in the US. The pension that he earned would provide for a better standard of life.
Unfortunately, my mother did not enjoy her quality of life in the Philippines. She couldn’t speak the local language and didn’t have any friends. She began drinking heavily to cope with sadness and depression. Within a few years, my mom decided to move us back to Clinton, Maine, and my dad stayed in the Philippines.
Without much in the way of financial resources, my mom reared my four siblings and me in a two-room trailer. She became an alcoholic. We lived on public assistance for the next several years. As soon as they were able, each of my siblings joined the military to get away from the squalid conditions. By the time I reached the eighth grade, my mom married another alcoholic. From them, I learned the power of alcohol. I began drinking as a young boy, and alcohol shaped the next several decades of my life. When my mother realized that the environment she was providing wouldn’t stop me from continuing down a bad path, she contacted my father. He agreed to raise me in the Philippines.
I returned to the Philippines when I was in the eighth grade, and I was able to basically raise myself. In the Philippines, the educational system concluded after the tenth grade. So children as young as 14 considered themselves adults and we could grow up without supervision. My father did not object to my drinking. I was my own man, setting my own course of life with intentions of joining the military, following in the footsteps of my father and siblings.
Following high school, I attended college in Manila for a few quarters. It was not a good environment for me. Instead of focusing on education, I was drawn to the fast life of alcohol, gambling, prostitution, and other vices. After a few complications that threatened to derail my future, I knew that it was time to make a change. Instead of continuing, I chose to return to the US and prepare for life in the Navy.
Joining the Navy:
At age 18, I returned to Maine. My mom still lived in a trailer where I grew up. She and all of my relatives suffered with various problems, all rooted in depression, low self-esteem, and poverty. They relied on alcohol to alleviate their struggles, and I didn’t have the good character to live any differently.
When I was 18, in 1989, I went to see a recruiter with the US Navy. Since the Navy didn’t recognize my diploma from the Philippines, I completed some remedial work to earn an American diploma. After graduating, I began my service, already a full-blown alcoholic. Drinking was my way of coping with the dysfunctional childhood. I didn’t have a real sense of family, felt low self-esteem because I was overweight, and hoped that the US Navy could bring me a sense of balance. For my first assignment, the Navy shipped me off to Chicago for boot camp and then a tour in the Silent Service.
In 1991, I went to my first submarine as one of 7 minorities. From my perspective, I felt like a second-class citizen. The vast majority of people on submarines were white Americans, and as an Asian I just didn’t feel as though I fit in. In fact, the others on the submarine would refer to me as a “point seven.” Since I wasn’t white, many would tell me that I was only a point-seven member of the crew.
Obviously, I didn’t like the point-seven distinction and it fed into my insecurities of not belonging. Still, I was determined to grow and excel. I met a few Filipino’s from a nearby ship and we formed our own clique, our own family. While in the Navy, I learned the importance of hard work and the discipline necessary to excel. I also built the first solid friendships in my life. They were good people, but together, we formed bonds and a value system that seemed particular to us. There were different worlds—the world at sea and the world of the homeport. While in the homeport, people were family-oriented. While at sea or in distant ports, drinking and womanizing characterized our life.
I’m ashamed to say that I wasn’t any different. As I look back, I realize that I’m unworthy of the many advantages that came my way. In 1991, I married Lorna, a young woman I knew from growing up in the Philippines. She immigrated to the US after her father died. Marrying Lorna was the best decision of my life, but I’m ashamed to say that I failed her in so many ways as a husband. Despite the weakness of my character, she has been the bedrock and love of my life.
God blessed Lorna and me with three beautiful children. I hoped to provide our family with more stability than I had known as a child. In reality, it was Lorna who kept our family together, instilling and living the values that I “spoke” about but did not embody. Of my 26 years in the Navy, I spent 13 at sea. While away from our family, I failed Lorna and our children on many occasions. I would drink to excess and engaged in behavior that proved unworthy of the blessings in my life.
Although I worked to advance my education and career in the Navy, I lived a lie. Rather than being a man of good character and discipline, I gained weight, I lost self-esteem, and I lied routinely. By telling myself that everyone behaved in the same way, I rationalized my bad decisions. In retrospect, I can see how I was a selfish, shallow, liar, and a cheat. I fell into a trap that continued to grow. There is no excuse for the disgrace that I became.
Over the past year, I’ve spent hundreds of hours in introspection, trying to figure out where I went astray. With so many opportunities to live as a decent and good human being, a good citizen, I should’ve done better. I can blame alcohol, but in reality, all fault lies with the poor decisions I made. Instead of studying ethics, seeking good mentors, adhering to a code of righteous conduct, I lived a double life—being one man at home, while another at sea. In so doing, I disgraced my family, my community, my profession, and our country.
By 2004, I was a Lieutenant Junior Grade. With more than 15 years of experience in the Navy, I should’ve placed a higher value on ethics and personal integrity. Instead, I allowed myself to engage in behavior that I knew was wrong. I drank too much, I womanized too much, I bent the rules when bending rules would suit my needs. This was not the way of the Navy, but rather the way of a man who failed to adhere to the principles of good character. Instead of being the good leader that I should’ve been, I convinced myself that there were “grey” areas in the Navy. And I failed while operating in those areas.
I still remember the first time that I met Leonard Francis, who led Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA). My boss, Commander Seep, introduced “Fat Leonard” to me on a wardroom party. He was charming, personable, and incredibly influential. At the time, Leonard controlled several ports through his company GDMA. As we drank together, I deluded myself into believing that we were friends. I’m ashamed to admit that I wanted to believe that we were equals. It wasn’t enough for me that I was a young Lieutenant in the Navy. I admired Leonard’s power and influence. Although it was the first time that we met, and we didn’t discuss anything inappropriate, by sitting there and drinking with him, I felt bigger. It was as if I craved validation, and sitting with men of power boosted my self-esteem.
In the months and years to come, I would frequently cross paths with Leonard. We’d always have a drink together, talk about what we were doing. In reality, Leonard and I came from completely different worlds. He was a wealthy and influential tycoon, and I was a career man in the Navy, and an alcoholic. There is no excuse for what I did, but I fell under the charm of Leonard. I suspect that he sensed the weakness of my character. He was like a snake charmer, preying on my flaws and manipulating me to serve or advance his interests.
By 2006, we had gotten drunk together on several occasions. The first time he asked me for something, I wasn’t sure whether I could provide it. He wanted me to provide him with an action report, a report that showed actual costs for the types of services his company provided. It was likely a test. Not knowing how to respond, I asked for guidance from my Captain. Once I gave Leonard the report, he expressed his appreciation by offering me a hotel room in port.
It was wrong for me to accept. By accepting that hotel room, I allowed myself to begin the slide that would lead to my demise. No longer was operating in the grey area. Instead of serving the US Navy, or living up to my potential, I disgraced our country by allowing myself to become a willing pawn in Leonard’s scheme of greed and corruption.
Over the course of the next few years, I continued drinking with Leonard whenever our paths crossed. Anytime he asked for information, I gave in as if I were his lapdog. Instead of living a principled life as an officer in the US Navy, I am embarrassed and ashamed to admit that I served Leonard’s interests without regard to my duty or responsibilities. On one occasion, while drunk, I served as his henchman, sending a threatening text to a woman I didn’t even know.
Besides accepting graft that included hotel rooms and prostitutes, on two occasions I accepted envelopes that included cash. The amount of cash was not nearly as significant as the self-respect I lost by accepting it. My career with the Navy was approaching an end. In the back of my mind, I think I deluded myself into believing that the “friendship” I had with Leonard would make me a prime candidate for a laid-back job with his company after I retired.
What This Experience Has Taught Me:
I’ve learned that I’m a flawed and insecure human being. Like millions of others, I grew up in difficult circumstances. I’m embarrassed to say that I did not rise above those circumstances. I began drinking as a teenager and became an alcoholic by the time I joined the Navy. While in the Navy, instead of surrounding myself with the best of mentors, I cavorted with people who lived less than honorable lives. We were family men at home, but degenerates while at sea. I lied and I cheated. And through my relationship with Francis Leonard, I stained the honor that belongs to every member of the US Military. I contributed to corruption. Now, I must work for the rest of my life to make things right.
I let many people down through my poor decisions. Although I love the US Navy, the United States, and all of the people who served with me, in the end, I’m a flawed human being. Drinking contributed to my low self-esteem. And my low self-esteem led to my search for validation. And my search for validation left me to clinging to validation from a man like Leonard Francis. A relationship with Leonard Francis led to a slide in my morals. And a slide in my morals led me into corruption. That corruption resulted in my pleading guilty to crimes of bribery.
Before I express the steps I’ve begun taking to reconcile with society, I would like you to know a bit more about my life outside—my life outside of this corruption case.
This predicament that defines my life spans the years between 2006 and 2011. But as mentioned above, I led a double life. Although I frequently made horrible decisions, I also worked to contribute to the making of a better society. With hopes that you will temper justice with mercy, I’d like you to consider my life in its entirety, and not only the criminal charge, as you deliberate over the appropriate sentence for my crimes.
The US Navy issued five Achievement medals and four Accommodation medals to recognize the efforts I made to serve as a good Naval Supply Officer. For example, in 2009 the Navy sent me to the Philippines on a mission to facilitate entry of the USS John S McCain and another ship into two ports. I exceeded expectations, by saving the military more than $100,000 in port costs.
In 2013, as a member of the Seabees NMCB 4, I brought to the attention of investigators how the US Navy was wasting resources on unnecessary expenditures. To remedy the situation, I worked with colleagues to draft new procedures that led to streamlined efficiencies.
In an effort to contribute to the less fortunate, my family and I established a foundation to provide Christmas gifts to children in Hinunangan, Southern Leyte. Over the past five years, we’ve donated resources to give school supplies, toys, candy, and a Christmas meal for more than 1,000 children. Our family provided those resources, and coordinated donations from others, to contribute to the lives of less fortunate people.
For more than a decade, I coached teams in little league, high school, and T-ball. I really enjoyed the fun and camaraderie the children had while leading them to play in Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, and Hong Kong.
As a family, we provide financial support to many children in the Philippines. Our support eased the way for many students to finish high school, advance to college, and prepare for fulfilling, contributing lives.
I also helped my brother in 2012 when he was found at a hospital dying from HIV. I became his conservator and assisted him with the lengthy process of SSD and finding the appropriate housing for his condition. I then brought him here to Los Angeles to be closer to us. He now lives in LA in his own apartment.
Becoming a better man:
When I learned about this investigation and the likelihood that I would be targeted for prosecution, I felt dumbfounded. Although several months passed before I was notified, in my heart I knew that I had done wrong. I struggled with my conscience, replaying every bad decision that I had made. I didn’t know how to confess, or how to reconcile my guilty conscience.
Without a doubt, punishment would follow. That was a given. My thoughts from the beginning were what—if anything—I could do to make things right. I sought help by going to the Mental Health Department at the Port Hueneme Clinic. I’d been there before, as I’ve been struggling with my actions since 2013. My psychiatrist, Dr. Harney helped me with my faith and mental state. He prescribed pharmaceutical medications to relieve my anxieties and depression. But ultimately, I continued to self-medicate with alcohol. My drinking increased to more than a pint of vodka and several beers each day. Lacking the courage to face my demons, I drank until I blacked out on several occasions, humiliating my family with my public drunkenness.
Finally, I searched for help with a Christian 12 -Step program for addicts. I learned how to forgive myself and release my problems by studying the Bible and following the ethic codes and lifestyle. Studying scripture began to help me heal. Even though I still struggle with the forgiveness piece I know had to make restitution with my wife of 24 years and my children.
I am deeply ashamed of what I did on the High Seas of Seventh Fleet. Although I would love to go back and change my life, I know that the past is gone. Instead, I must work to influence a better future.
Studying the Bible and seeking help for my alcoholism has brought new purpose and direction in my life. I’ve enrolled in a Masters of Religion, Church Planting, and Evangelism. As of this writing, I’ve completed two classes. It’s my hope to continue working to complete 18 classes necessary to complete requirements for the Masters of Divinity degree. While incarcerated, I am hopeful that opportunities exist for me to continue my studies. I’m also hopeful that substance abuse programs will be accessible for me to treat my addiction to alcohol.
Once I reach the other side of my punishment, I will work to help with the NGO’s around the world. I want to contribute, to reconcile by offering assistance with disaster relief and the refugee crisis. My experience as a military officer, along with knowledge of Business, Foreign Affairs will serve organizations that aspire to improve lives for disadvantaged people in areas such as Syria, Africa, and Asia.
Your honor, I deeply regret my actions and the damage my crimes have had on the people of the United States and our military. Through introspection and actions, I will continue working to reconcile with society, and to become a better man. Please have mercy on me.