FCPA Case: U.S. v. Goncalves (gun sting case)

The Goncalves case, often referred to as the Africa gun sting case, involved an undercover sting operation executed by the FBI in 2010 at a Las Vegas gun show called the Shot Show convention. Specifically, the FBI created a fictitious deal to outfit the presidential guard of a small African country with weapons and security gear that included a $1.5 million bribe to that nation’s defense minister. Ultimately, the FBI arrested and charged 22 men and women, all in the military and law enforcement equipment industry, for allegedly participating in a conspiracy to bribe the defense minister of Gabon, and therefore violate the FCPA. Three of those charged pled guilty to conspiracy charges, but several others took their case to the jury at two separate trials.

At trial, the defense argued that the deal on its face appeared legitimate and that there was no conspiracy to violate the FCPA by the defendants. Further, the defense presented evidence that the informant and agents were vague in describing the illicit payments and that they never referred to them as bribes or kickbacks. The first trial, involving four defendants, took place in the District Court for the District of Columbia in July 2011.  After more than six days of deliberations, that trial resulted in a hung jury. The second trial of six others lasted four months, ending in January 2012, and resulted in three acquittals and a hung jury for the remaining defendants. The Department of Justice finally dismissed the charges against the remaining defendants  in February 2012. When granting DOJ’s motion to dismiss, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon described this prosecution as a “long and sad chapter in the annals of white collar criminal enforcement.”  He further stated, “I, for one, hope this very long, and I’m sure expensive, ordeal will be a true learning experience for both the Department and the FBI.” In March 2012, the government also dismissed the charges against those three defendants who had pled guilty and were awaiting sentencing.

News

"Feds Drop Case Against Final Africa Sting Defendants," The FCPA Blog, March 27, 2012.

"At DOJ’s Request, Judge Dismisses FCPA Sting Case," The BLT: The Blog of LegalTimes, February 21, 2012. [Additional coverage here]

DOJ Considers Abandoning Its FCPA Sting Prosecution,” The BLT: The Blog of LegalTimes, February 7, 2012. [Commentary from trial’s Jury Foreman here]

Federal jury deals setback to large Justice Department sting operation,” The Washington Post, January 31, 2012. [Additional coverage here and analysis here]

"In FCPA Sting Case, Prosecutors Revise Discovery Process," The BLT: The Blog of LegalTimes, August 25, 2011.

"FCPA Attorneys Gear up for Round Two in Gabon Bribery Case," The BLT: The Blog of LegalTimes, August 18, 2011.

"Mistrial Declared in FCPA Sting Case," The BLT: The Blog of LegalTimes, July 7, 2011.

Defense Filings

Motion to Dismiss Counts 1, 2, & 44 in the Superseding Indictment, United States v. Amaro Goncalves, et al., No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. Jan. 20, 2012)

Defendants’ Motion for Mistrial, United States v. Amaro Goncalves, et al., No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. Jan. 2, 2012)

Defendants’ Motion for an Evidentiary Hearing for the Purpose of Obtaining Exculpatory Evidence, United States v. Amaro Goncalves, et al., No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. Dec. 7, 2010)

Government Filings

Government’s Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice the Superseding Indictment for Spiller, Geri and Alvirez, United States v. Amaro Goncalves, et al., No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. March 27, 2012)

Government’s Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice the Superseding Indictment with Prejudice All Remaining Defendants Pending Trial, United States v. Amaro Goncalves, et al., No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. Feb. 21, 2012)

Government’s Supplemental Proposed Jury Instructions, United States v. Amaro Goncalves, et al., No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. Jan. 8, 2012)

Government’s Response to Defendants’ Motion for Mistrial, United States v. Amaro Goncalves, et al., No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. Jan. 4, 2012)

Government’s Reply to Defendant Patel’s Opposition to Government’s Motions In Limine, United States v. Amaro Goncalves, et al., No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. May 14, 2011)

Government Notice Regarding Amended Discovery and Filter Team Procedures, United States v. Amaro Goncalves, et al., No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. Aug. 24, 2011)

Plea Agreement for Haim Geri, United States v. Haim Geri, No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. April 28, 2011)

Statement of Offense for Haim Geri, United States v. Haim Geri, No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. April 28, 2011)

Plea Agreement for Jonathan M. Spiller, United States v. Jonathan M. Spiller, No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. March 29, 2011)

Statement of Offense for Jonathan Spiller, United States v. Jonathan M. Spiller, No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. March 29, 2011)

Plea Agreement for Daniel Alvirez, United States v. Daniel Alvirez, No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. March 1, 2011)

Statement of Offense for Daniel Alvirez, United States v. Daniel Alvirez, No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. March 1, 2011)

Government’s Response to Defendants’ Motion for anEvidentiary Hearing for the Purpose of Obtaining Exculpatory Evidence, United States v. Amaro Goncalves, et al., No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. Dec. 21, 2010) 

Superseding Indictment, United States v. Amaro Goncalves, et al., No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. April 16, 2010)

Superseding Indictment of Daniel Alvirez, , United States v. Daniel Alvirez, No. 09-CR-348-RJL (D.D.C. March 5, 2010)

Indictment, United States v. Amaro Goncalves, et al., No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. Dec. 11, 2009) 

Court Orders & Transcripts

Order Dismissing the Indictment and Vacating the Plea Agreement of Daniel Alvirez, United States v. Daniel Alvirez, No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. March 30, 2012) 

Order Dismissing the Indictment and Vacating the Plea Agreement of Haim Geri, United States v. Haim Geri, No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. March 30, 2012) 

Order Dismissing the Indictment and Vacating the Plea Agreement of Jonathan M. Spiller, United States v. Jonathan M. Spiller, No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. March 30, 2012) 

Order Dismissing the Indictments with Prejudice for Amaro Goncalvez and 15 Co-Defendants, United States v. Amaro Goncalves, et al., No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. Feb. 24, 2012)

Transcript of Judge Leon’s Remarks Dismissing the Indictments with Prejudice for Amaro Goncalves and 15 Co-Defendants, United States v. Amaro Goncalves, et al., No. 09-CR-335-RJL (D.D.C. Feb. 21, 2012) 

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