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Thursday
Jul072011

Mistrial! Gov't Shoots Blanks In Shot-Show Case

The judge in the shot-show case today declared a mistrial.

Here are reports from the Wall Street Journal and Main Justice.

The first four defendants of the original 22 who were charged in the case were Pankesh Patel, Andrew Bigelow, John Benson Weir, and Lee Allen Tolleson. Their trial started in mid May.

The jury deliberated five days without reaching a verdict.

The 22 shot-show defendants were charged in a 44-count superseding indictment with conspiracy to violate the FCPA, violating the FCPA, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and aiding and abetting. They also faced a forfeiture count.

Twenty one of the defendants were arrested two years ago when they were in Las Vegas for an industry event known as the shot show.

The case was the biggest FCPA round up in history. It was also the first time the government used a sting to catch alleged FCPA violators. An FBI agent posed as an official of Gabon who allegedly accepted bribes to award contracts for police and military equipment supply contracts.

The government divided the original 22 defendants into four groups to make the trials more manageable. 

Three of the defendants have already pleaded guilty. Haim Geri pleaded guilty in April to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He faces 18 to 24 months in prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date wasn't set. He lives in Miami.

In March, Daniel Alvirez pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to violate the FCPA, and Jonathan Spiller pleaded guilty to one FCPA conspiracy count. They haven't been sentenced.

In September last year, Richard Bistrong, the key intermediary between the FBI and the shot-show defendants, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other statutes. He's waiting to be sentenced.

According to a report in the Blog of the Legal Times, a defense filing before the shot-show trial opened alleged that the “prosecution is built entirely around an irredeemably corrupt con-man, Richard Bistrong, and that, by mishandling him and by other misconduct, the government allowed Bistrong to contaminate every aspect of the operation."

Following a mistrial, defendants can be put on trial again for the same offenses.

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