United States v. Amaro Goncalves, et al.

Case materials from the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) prosecution of Amaro Goncalves, United States v. Amaro Goncalves, et al., No. 09-CR-335-RJL.

Brief filed: 03/30/2012


United States v. Amaro Goncalves, et al.

D.D.C.; Case No. 1:09-CR-00335-RJL


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.

More documents from DOJ


"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]

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

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

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

Continue reading below

"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.

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