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Lanark grad at center of scandal

U.S. Navy Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz
U.S. Navy Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz

A former Lanark resident who escaped the Cambodian Killing Fields and went on to become a respected U.S. Navy officer has been charged in a high-profile bribery scheme that involved allegations of kickbacks that included prostitutes and luxury travel.

U.S. Navy Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, 46, was arrested in Colorado Sept. 16, along with John Bertrand Beliveau II, 44, a special agent for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

The men were charged in separate incidents with taking bribes from Leonard Glenn Francis, CEO of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a multinational defense contractor, according to a news release from the U.S. Justice Department. Francis also was arrested Sept. 16.

The criminal complaints say that Francis gave Misiewicz expensive trips, prostitute services, and even Lady Gaga concert tickets in exchange for confidential information and assistance in helping him procure hundreds of millions of dollars in Navy contracts.

Beliveau is charged in a separate bribery case involving Francis in which he received similar perks for giving the Glenn Defense CEO information about an NCIS fraud investigation into his business with the Navy.

Glenn Defense provides a variety of services to the Navy, including coordinating, scheduling and procuring goods and services needed by ships and submarines when they arrive at port. The U.S. Attorney’s Office alleges that Misiewicz used his position as deputy operations officer of the U.S. Seventh Fleet to arrange for Navy ships to visit ports where Glenn Defense provided services.

Glenn Defense bilked the Navy out of $10 million in just one year in Thailand alone, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Misiewicz was at the center of several feel-good stories reported at various times by many media outlets. Born in Cambodia, he was adopted in 1973 by a Freeport woman, Maryna Misiewicz, who was then serving in the Army in Phnom Penh. Misiewicz brought him to the United States, just before the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia. Maryna Misiewicz retired from the Army in 1976, and has a long history of working with and volunteering in many Stephenson County-area veterans programs.

In 2010, Misiewicz also made news in an emotional reunion with family members while his ship was on Navy business in Cambodia.

Misiewicz graduated from Lanark High School in 1986. In addition to being a good student, Misiewicz was a member of the conference champion Lanark varsity football team that went 9-0 and made it to the semifinals of the state playoffs before losing to Carthage High School.

After graduation, Misiewicz enlisted in the Navy. He received a bachelor of arts degree in marine engineering and a master’s in space systems. He eventually worked at the Pentagon for the head of naval operations.

He married Marcy Rahn, also a Lanark High graduate. They have three children, and the family was based in suburban Washington.

Misiewicz came back to Lanark this year to give a Memorial Day address at the high school.

According to a story in The (Freeport) Journal-Standard, Maryna Misiewicz threw a party in Freeport, on Aug. 10, 2008, to celebrate her son’s new assignment as captain of the Navy Destroyer USS Kidd.

On that day, his proud mother was quoted as saying:

“I am so excited. I knew he was a smart child, and that he would do well in the Navy, but I had no idea he would ever command a ship. I am just really proud of what he has accomplished. He’s just become a wonderful man.”

Misiewicz, Beliveau and Francis are officially charged with conspiracy to commit bribery, which carries a maximum prison term of 5 years. Misiewicz will face charges in federal court.

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