Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Africa Sting - Will Economic Realities Result in Additional Pleas?

The Africa Sting case (see here for numerous prior posts) is best known as the largest undercover sting operation in FCPA history.

The sting operation resulted in lots of video recordings, telephone recordings, documents and search warrant material.

According to a recent DOJ discovery filing (see here) the following, among other things, have been turned over to defense counsel:

"615 audio and video recordings of more than 150 meetings;"

"5,287 recorded telephone calls between the defendants and the cooperating witness, identified as Individual 1 in the indictments, and between the defendants and undercover FBI agents;"

"recordings of telephone calls between Individual 1 and FBI agents;"

"certain calls, approximately a minute or less in length, recorded in connection with the undercover investigation;"

"in excess of 5,000 pages of documents relating to Individual 1, including reports, expense paperwork, bank statements, quotes, emails, notes, drug tests results, payment receipts, and Skype text messages, among others;"

"emails from the accounts of Individual 1 and the undercover FBI agents;"

"nearly 3,000 pages of text messages from the telephone Individual 1 used in connection with the undercover operation;"

"documents related to the undercover investigation that are not directly related to Individual 1, including case administration documents, FBI reports, bank records, product information, and search warrant materials;" and

"materials seized during the 13 search warrants executed in connection with the undercover investigation relating to the defendants" including a total of "approximately 242,000 pages of documents," "electronic media, including desktop computers, laptop computers, USB drives, zip discs, memory cards and DVDs, among other items, seized during the searches," and "photographs taken in connection with the search warrants and logs of those photographs, as well as search diagrams and seizure inventories."

The government had vast resources at its disposal in conducting the sting and continues to have vast resources at its disposal in prosecuting the case.

The defendants do not.

Another distinguishing feature of the Africa Sting case is that it involves many small-business owners.

The lawyers for the Africa Sting defendants have a duty to competently represent their clients.

That means the lawyers will have to review all of the above-referenced material (as well as other material) to better understand the facts of the case and their client's exposure.

That is going to be very expensive. And all this is required before "active" lawyering (i.e. motions to dismiss, etc.) even begins.

Some will say, well, the Africa Sting defendants should have thought about this before (allegedly) violating the law.

Others will say, this case points out the difficulties of litigating against a DOJ with vast resources.

Will the economic realities of this situation lead to more plea deals over the summer?

Will the cost of testing an innocence claim simply be too high such that additional defendants may raise the "white flag" of surrender? If so, is it because the defendants are guilty of the crimes charged, or because of the economic realities of the situation?


For the latest Main Justice update on the Africa Sting case (see here).

1 comment:

  1. please continue these posts on the Africa sting - very interesting and insightful.