Two Africa sting defendants were acquitted today in federal court in Washington, D.C.
The jury found R. Patrick Caldwell and John Gregory Godsey not guilty of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
The jury hasn’t reached a verdict as to John and Jeana Mushriqui and Marc Morales. Judge Richard Leon asked the panel to deliberate more. He said he would declare a mistrial tomorrow if there is no verdict.
The trial took more than three months before the jury started deliberating two weeks ago.
A sixth defendant, Stephen G. Giordanella, was acquitted in the case last month before it went to the jury.
Caldwell is a former secret service agent. He and Giordanella headed Executive Protective Products of America Inc. based in Sunrise, Florida. It designs and manufactures concealable and tactical body armor.
The first Africa sting trial ended in September with a hung jury, forcing Judge Leon to declare a mistrial. The DOJ has said it will retry Pankesh Patel, Andrew Bigelow, John Benson Weir, and Lee Allen Tolleson.
Twenty-two defendants were arrested after a two-and-a-half year undercover “sting” operation by the DOJ and FBI agents. All but one defendant was arrested in Las Vegas during an annual trade show for military and law enforcement equipment companies.
Prosecutors alleged that the defendants tried to bribe the defense minister of Gabon, Africa to win contracts to provide body armor, weapons, and military gear. U.S. government agents posed as officials from Gabon.
Three defendants in the case have pleaded guilty to FCPA conspiracy or substantive charges. Haim Geri, Daniel Alvirez, and Jonathan Spiller haven’t been sentenced yet.
The two acquittals today are another setback for the DOJ’s FCPA unit.
Earlier this month, a judge ordered the acquittal of John O’Shea, a former ABB manager in Texas, on all substantive FCPA counts he faced. The judge said the government’s primary witness knew almost nothing about the case.
In December last year, a federal judge in Los Angeles dismissed indictments against Keith Lindsey and Steve K. Lee, and their company Lindsey Manufacturing. After the jury convicted the three defendants on all counts, Judge Howard Matz threw out the verdicts. He said prosecutors had withheld evidence and violated court orders, among other things. The DOJ has said it is appealing the dismissals.