One of the toughest and most important jobs anywhere is that of a law enforcement officer. So we’re happy that we heard from a member of that community.
He wrote about our post yesterday that discussed the mistrial in D.C.
Here’s what he said:
Dear FCPA Blog,
That was an excellent blog post. I think you really hit the nail on the head. I’m a cop, and I don’t even like a lot of stings, especially when they almost bait people into committing the crime.
I highly suspect that one reason this sting was viewed so unfavorably by the jury was that the DOJ didn’t, or wasn’t legally allowed to establish how heinous of a crime it would have been, if it were real.
I think the jury empathized with the defendants and saw them as hardworking Americans who were tricked into planning to bribe an actor (liar) in order to make a living. I do not know what is admissible in trials, but I imagine that had the DOJ portrayed them as weapons dealers seeking to make a profit off of the generic constant war and strife in Africa — that is, to turn a quick profit by bribing an official to be able to sell him instruments of death — the jury would have been swayed towards a conviction. I doubt any of the jurors would have known the political situation in Gabon, which is relatively peaceful. I had to look it up.
In your Juries may hate bribery, as we often say, but stings really stink paragraph, you really nailed it. As far as I know, all of the major FCPA cases up to this point have been against CEO’s and corporate executives. As you pointed out, this one was against working Americans. They were weapons / military dealers, many of them so small or regional that I haven’t heard of them. Being weapons / military dealers, I wonder if the ongoing wars in Iraq / Afghanistan played a role in the jurors’ minds. It would be easy to think: “Hey, the government sought out these Americans to arrest and convict for bribery. But these are the same Americans that provide our troops overseas and police at home with what they need to keep us safe. Why is the government trying to get rid of them?”
Like you have said in your past posts, conspiracy to commit an FCPA violation is a relatively easy crime to prove and prosecute. Either the sting itself or something the DOJ did in the courtroom must have really soured the jury.
Hopefully someone in the DOJ’s FCPA unit will read your post!
Law Enforcement Officer
Editor’s Note: The correspondent identified himself and we verified his identity and membership in the law enforcement community. He asked that his name be withheld.