Federal prosecutors once again expanded the indictment against the Hollywood couple accused of bribing a Thai official in exchange for contracts to stage the Bangkok Film Festival. The second superseding indictment filed on March 11 added a charge of obstruction of justice against Gerald Green. Convictions under the obstruction statute (18 U.S.C. §1519) carry a potential 20-year jail term. The post-Enron law is generally considered a potent threat. Prosecutors are no longer required to show that a defendant had a “willful or corrupt state of mind” but only an “intent to impede, obstruct, or influence” an investigation.
Movie-producers Gerald Green, 76, and his wife Patricia, 53, whose credits include Rescue Dawn, were first arrested in December 2007 at the Los Angeles International Airport after a flight from Thailand. They allegedly paid more than $1.8 million in bribes to a former governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand in return for $14 million in contracts for the film festival.
Before the government added the obstruction charge, the Greens were already facing 21 criminal counts, including charges of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, money laundering, illegally transporting money-laundering proceeds, aiding and abetting, and (in Mrs. Green’s case) filing false tax returns. The tax charges were added in October 2008. Convictions on the FCPA counts carry a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, 10 years for the tax charges, and 20 years for the money laundering counts.
The government’s case also included a forfeiture action, resulting in a restraining order that prevents the Greens from disposing of some of their property at least until their trial’s outcome. The Greens are naturalized U.S. citizens — he was born in South Africa and she in Mexico. They’ve pleaded not guilty to all charges and are free on bail.
Following the government’s March 11 filing of the second superseding indictment, the federal district court in LA pushed the Greens’ trial date from April 21 to August 4, 2009.
In the obstruction of justice count, the government said Gerald Green created fake budgets to hide the alleged bribes. “Specifically, believing that bribe payments made in connection with the Thai government contracts were under investigation by the FBI, defendant Gerald Green altered and falsified film production budgets to make them appear as though they were created in 2006 in an effort to characterize bribe payments as bona fide film production expenses when, in truth and in fact, as defendant Gerald Green then well knew, the film production budgets were not created in 2006.”
According to the FBI’s 28-page affidavit, at least two former insiders are giving evidence against the Greens. The government says the cooperating witnesses prepared budgets, arranged meetings, wrote checks and ran bank accounts that are now at the center of the case. And when the police raided the Greens’ office, among the items seized were spreadsheets allegedly maintained by Patricia Green “that calculated and tracked the corrupt payments made to and for the benefit of the” former governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Download the March 11, 2009 second superseding indictment here.
Download the FBI’s affidavit here.