Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Africa Sting - Not Guilty Pleas

Today was arraignment day for the Africa Sting defendants in Judge Richard Leon's courtroom in the Federal District Court in Washington D.C.

During the arraignment, the defendants pleaded not guilty.

For a first hand account of what transpired in Judge Leon's courtroom, see here for Christopher Matthew's piece at Main Justice.


  1. I'm curious how this will play out in the trial process. I read somewhere that Judge Leon stated that he didn't believe it was practical to try all the defendants at one trial. What do you beleive may transpire going forward with the individual defense cases? I'm also wondering why there isn't more coverage available on the arraignment hearings.

  2. That makes two of us.

    From media reports, it certainly sounds like Judge Leon has questions about the DOJ's case. I also thought that there would be more media coverage, but I am aware of only the Main Justice and Reuters story.

    The indictments, with a few minor differences, are all essentially the same. All defendants are likely to make the same entrapment arguments in seeking to dismiss the indictments and, if so, would no doubt await Judge Leon's ruling before deciding what to do next.

    After that, and from a pure statistical point of view, it would be highly unlikely for all 22 defendants to proceed to trial. The defendants would then have some serious cost/benefit thinking to do in deciding whether to plea and cooperate in the hopes of a lower sentence.

    Because the indictments are essentially the same, one defendants plea and cooperation no doubt will be problematic for the remaining defendants.

  3. Why do you think three of the defendants are still in Las Vegas?

  4. If the supposed African minister never actually existed, how can the DoJ have a case?

  5. I'm intrigued about the foreign nationals. If they were prepared to ship material from their own countries to African States and were doing so via an agent, what right does the US have to charge them? Surely this is not a US matter if the 'supposed' African Minister never actually existed?????

  6. This is a fascinating case. Would the 22 defendants have a stronger case of entrapment if they stick together? None of the evidence has been made public so I am assuming that the defendants' previous dealings with Bistrong were legal and the only transaction that could be considered questionable was through the undercover agent. Hence only the conspiracy charges and not actual violations of the FCPA. If that is the case, given the lack of "previous disposition" of the defendants, if they defend themselves collectively and prove the lack of conspiracy amongst themselves (16 companies each attempting to get a slice of a 15 million dollar deal) could the case the FBI has completely fall apart. Also, do you believe that this might be a "fishing" exercise to go after the companies the defendants were employed by? I'm rooting for aquittal by entrapment. What are the chances?

  7. Why are certain defendants still in Vegas and have not yet been arrainged? Good question, I don't know.

    Non-exisent African "foreign official" - yes I think this does matter (at least as to the FCPA substantive and conspiracy charges) - see my prior post Africa Sting - the Big Question.

    Foreign nationals and U.S. jurisdiction? The indictments of these individuals make several allegations sufficient to establish a U.S. nexus, and thus jurisdiction, including meetings in the U.S. and use of U.S. mail.

    Entrapment - I agree it will be interesting to see how this plays out, the arguments the defense and DOJ make, and how Judge Leon ultimately rules.