Johns Creek communications director pleads guilty in federal probe

The former Johns Creek communications director has pleaded guilty as part of a federal probe into corruption in the U.S. Navy.

Jeff Breslau, 52, was a Navy captain prior to working with the city. He pleaded guilty to criminal conflict of interest charges as part of a fraud and corruption investigation into a foreign defense contractor, Leonard Glenn Francis, and his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice. The case is known as the Fat Leonard scandal.

Breslau was charged in September and pleaded guilty Nov. 13. A spokesperson for the city said he resigned Sept. 28, and the city found out about his plan to negotiate a plea just prior to his resignation. He joined the city in May 2015 after receiving an honorable discharge from the Navy in 2014.

“The activities conducted by Mr. Breslau related to his guilty plea deal took place prior to his employment with the city,”said Bob Mullen, a spokesperson for the city.

In 2015, Francis, pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud charges regarding a conspiracy to win contracts and overbill the Navy by millions of dollars, the statement said. The conspiracy allegedly involved scores of Navy officials. So far, 33 people have been charged and 22 have pleaded guilty.

Francis paid Breslau about $65,000 while Breslau worked for the Navy as the director of public affairs for the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Hawaii and as the commanding officer for the Joint Public Affairs Support Element in Virginia, where he led joint crisis communications teams, the statement said. It said Breslau did not inform the Navy of the relationship.

The statement said Breslau admitted to consulting for Francis from March 2012 to September 2013. During that time, he wrote, reviewed or edited at least 33 documents, sent at least 135 emails providing Francis with advice, sent Francis talking points ahead of meetings with high ranking Navy personnel at least 14 times and ghostwrote a number of emails to Navy personnel on Francis’ behalf.

The correspondence included advice on how to respond to issues and controversies related to Glenn Defense Marine Asia’s business with the Navy, including disputes with competitors, issues related to the costs of port visits and concerns about unauthorized dumping and other malfeasance.

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