DOJ Losses in Two High-Profile Bribery Trials Linked to Racy Texts by FBI Agents
Posted Feb 14, 2012 7:38 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Federal prosecutors failed to win any convictions in two high-profile foreign bribery trials after the defense used the words of FBI agents to attack their credibility.
One trial of six defendants ended in Washington, D.C., federal court last month, the Washington Post reports. The jury foreman, a nonpracticing lawyer, told the newspaper that the racy text messages exchanged between FBI agents and an informant pointed to “an amatereurish operation” and hurt the prosecution.
According to the story, FBI agents joked with the informant in texts about “sex, booty calls, prostitutes, cigars, the Village People, the informant’s wives and an agent’s girlfriend.” The prosecutions involved a sting in which the informant approached executives in arms industries, pitched a deal to outfit the presidential guard of a West African nation, and warned that a kickback would have to be paid.
In court, FBI agents defended the messages as “operationally necessary” to build rapport with the informant. But defense lawyers argued the messages showed the agents had failed to establish appropriate boundaries.
Now the government is considering whether to drop future prosecutions of 16 remaining defendants, including seven people whose cases ended in hung juries, according to the Post.