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Two plead guilty in bribe scheme involving former New York FBI agent

Image courtesy of the FBITwo Connecticut men pleaded guilty Friday for a bribery scheme to obtain confidential internal documents and other confidential information from a former FBI Special Agent stationed in White Plains, New York.

Johannes Thaler, 51, of Fairfield County, Connecticut, and Rizve Ahmed, aka “Caesar,” 35, of Danbury, Connecticut, pleaded guilty in White Plains, New York federal court to bribery and conspiracy to commit honest services and wire fraud.

Both Thaler and Ahmed admitted to participating in a bribery scheme with Robert Lustyik, a former FBI Special Agent in White Plains who worked on the counterintelligence squad, the DOJ said.

Between September 2011 and March 2012, Thaler and Lustyik solicited bribes from Ahmed, in exchange for Lustyik’s agreement to provide FBI documents and other confidential information.

Thaler was Lustyik’s friend, and Ahmed, a native of Bangladesh, was an acquaintance of Thaler, the DOJ said.

Ahmed wanted a Suspicious Activity Report about a Bangladeshi politician affiliated with a political party opposing Ahmed’s views. His intent was to harm the politician. 

He also asked for help in having criminal charges against a different Bangladeshi political figure dismissed.

In text messages, Thaler and Ahmed about a “contract” that would require Ahmed to pay a $40,000 “retainer” and $30,000 “monthly.”  In return, Lustyik and Thaler agreed to “give [Ahmed] everything [they] ha[d] plus set up [the victim] and get the inside from the party.”

Thaler and Lustyik also exchanged texts about how to pressure Ahmed for money in exchange for confidential information. 

Lustyik told Thaler, “we need to push [Ahmed] for this meeting and get that 40 gs quick . . . . I will talk us into getting the cash . . . . I will work my magic . . . . We r sooooooo close.” 

Thaler responded, “I know. It’s all right there in front of us. Pretty soon we’ll be having lunch in our oceanfront restaurant . . . .”

In January 2012, after Lustyik learned that Ahmed might use a different source for the confidential information, he sent a text to Thaler saying, “I want to kill [Ahmed] . . . . I hung my ass out the window n we got nothing? . . . . Tell [Ahmed], I’ve got [the victim’s] number and I’m pissed. . . . I will put a wire on n get [Ahmed and his associates] to admit they want [a Bangladeshi political figure] offed n we sell it to the victim].” 

Lustyik added, “So bottom line. I need ten gs asap. We gotta squeeze C.”

Sentencing for Thaler and Ahmed is set for January 23, 2015.

Lustyik is scheduled for trial next month.

As the DOJ says, the charges contained in an indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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