Mistrial in First Trial Following Massive Foreign Corrupt Practices Bribery Sting

As reported by Reuters, last week, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia declared a mistrial in the trial of four arms salesmen for alleged bribes under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The defendants,  Andrew Bigelow, Pankesh Patel, Lee Tolleson and John Wier, were accused of attempting to bribe two individuals who were posing as representatives of the defense ministry of the African nation of Gabon in order to win a $15 million deal to provide guns, body armor and other equipment. The defendants were alleged to have told the informants that they would add a 20 percent commission to any prices quoted as bribes. The mistrial was declared following a six week trial in which the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict after six different votes.

The sting operation, which involved a staggering 250 FBI agents, resulted in 22 individuals being charged, including a former U.S. Secret Service agent and an executive for U.S. firearm manufacturer Smith & Wesson Holding Co. Department of Justice officials have informed the media that the Department intends to retry the case. Three of the 22 individuals charged as a result of the sting have pled guilty. Trials have been scheduled for the remaining defendants.

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Associate of Former Arizona Representative Rick Renzi Sentenced to 3 Years' Probation for Conspiracy and Embezzlement; Follows Acquittal of Mr. Andrew Beardall on All Charges

Yesterday, Dwayne Lequire, a former accountant at an insurance firm run by former Republican U.S. Representative for Arizona Rick Renzi was sentenced to three years probation in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, according to KTAR.com.

Representative Renzi represented Arizona's 1st Congressional District until declining to seek re-election in 2008. He is alleged to have siphoned off approximately $400,000 from his family insurance business based in Sierra Vista, Arizona, to finance his Congressional campaign. He was indicted in a 47 count indictment relating to the insurance conduct and to a land swap which was unsealed in February of 2008. Last year, the trial court suppressed the wiretap evidence gathered against Representative Renzi, holding that Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and federal prosecutors ``conducted an unreasonable wholesale interception of calls they knew to be attorney-client communications.'' Representative Renzi has challenged the indictment in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the criminal proceedings are on hold pending the appeal.

Lequire was convicted in July on eight counts of embezzlement. He was alleged to have diverted customers' insurance premiums to Representative Renzi. Lequire did not benefit from the activity, however.

Another associate of Representative Renzi, Andrew Beardall of Rockville, Maryland, was charged with conspiracy and two counts of insurance fraud for allegedly helping Representative Renzi cover up the transfer, however Mr. Beardall was subsequently acquitted on all charges.

(Postscript: It is the Blog's understanding that Mr. Beardall has filed a Hyde Amendment petition following his acquittal and we wish him and his counsel success in their pursuit).

Rome Man Enters Last Minute Plea In Phantom Timber Prosecution

Aaron Wilbert Freeman of Rome, Georgia, pled guilty last week in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia to one count of conspiracy and one count of wire fraud after a jury had been selected in his trial, according to a press release by the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Northern District of Georgia,  Freeman operated a "scale house" for the Temple-Inland Company where trucks carrying timber were weighed and drivers were issued a "scale ticket" as proof of delivery of the timber. Freeman was alleged to have manipulated the scale house's computer system to note multiple deliveries of timber where in fact there was only a single delivery. Freeman allegedly recruited delivery drivers, co-defendants Kevin Fields, Jason Joseph, Roger Carthern, Andrew Carthern, David Carthern, Robert Frank Ferguson and Bonner Tate to redeem false scale tickets with timber suppliers. The alleged co-conspirators are alleged to have laundered the monies gained through various accounts, and to have split the profits with Freeman. The scheme allegedly netted approximately $4 million. All of the defendants were indicted in November of 2009.