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« Sting Case Is A DOJ 'Fantasy,' Lawyer Says | Main | Stanley, Tesler, and Chodan Sentencings Postposed »
Tuesday
Jan312012

Second Mistrial In Africa Sting Prosecution

Judge Richard Leon declared a mistrial today in the prosecution of the three remaining defendants in the second Africa sting trial.

After deliberating ten days, the jury failed to reach a verdict on any counts against siblings John and Jeana Mushriqui, and Marc Morales.

Of the six defendants who started in the second Africa sting trial, none were convicted.

On Monday, the jury acquitted Patrick Caldwell and John Godsey of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Stephen G. Giordanella was acquitted by the judge last month before the case went to the jury.

The first Africa sting trial ended in September with a hung jury, forcing Judge Leon to declare a mistrial. The DOJ has said it will retry Pankesh Patel, Andrew Bigelow, John Benson Weir, and Lee Allen Tolleson.

Twenty-two defendants were arrested after a two-and-a-half year undercover "sting" operation by the DOJ and FBI agents. All but one defendant was arrested in Las Vegas during an annual trade show for military and law enforcement equipment companies.

Prosecutors alleged that the defendants tried to bribe the defense minister of Gabon, Africa to win contracts to provide body armor, weapons, and military gear. U.S. government agents posed as officials from Gabon.

Three defendants in the case have pleaded guilty to FCPA conspiracy or substantive charges. Haim Geri, Daniel Alvirez, and Jonathan Spiller haven't been sentenced yet.

After Judge Leon declared the mistrial today, the DOJ said it intends to retry the Mushriquis, who are siblings, and Morales. Their trial had lasted three months before the jury began deliberating.

As early as February last year, Judge Leon expressed doubt about the government's conspiracy theory in the case. "I read all 16 indictments," Judge Leon said, "and I didn't see it. I have zero sense that there was an omnibus grand conspiracy." Prosecutors went ahead anyway.

But last month, Judge Leon dismissed all conspiracy charges against the six defendants in the second trial, leaving only substantive FCPA counts. Those are generally harder to prove than conspiracy charges.

The DOJ's embattled FCPA unit has suffered a string of high-profile losses.

Earlier this month, a judge ordered the acquittal of John O'Shea, a former ABB manager in Texas, on all substantive FCPA counts he faced. The judge said the government's primary witness knew almost nothing about the case.

In December last year, a federal judge in Los Angeles dismissed indictments against Keith Lindsey and Steve K. Lee, and their company Lindsey Manufacturing. After the jury convicted the three defendants on all counts, Judge Howard Matz threw out the verdicts. He said prosecutors had withheld evidence and violated court orders, among other things. The DOJ has said it is appealing Judge Matz's ruling.

Reader Comments (2)

The government withheld evidence in this case, as well. Prosecutor Graves and his cohort, Prosecutor Perkins, got their asses handed to them BIG TIME by Judge Leon. Frankly, Graves and Perkins should be brought up on charges of prosecutorial misconduct and appear before the ARDC. Their behavior was reprehensible and bush league.
February 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz
This case was a collection of bad planning, bad judgment, poor investigating, lack of supervision, wrought with unethical behavior, lack of control on the informant....who was the only actual criminal, immaturity on the part of FBI undercover agent.... The list can go on. There of plenty of real criminals out there...this was pitiful. ... And arresting them with swat teams after they were put through metal detectors? Treated like dirt. Over kill, over the top press conference...two trials, I10 defendants, not a single conviction. 8 hung juries all leaning overwhelmingly to acquit, two acquittals, one case thrown out with a count dismissed .when does the light go on at DOJ? Who concocted this gem?
February 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJ

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