Authorities drop remaining charges in major bribery case

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 27, 2012 1:44 PM
Authorities drop remaining charges in major bribery case

By Aruna Viswanatha

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. federal prosecutors filed a motion on Tuesday to drop the remaining charges in a failed major bribery prosecution involving military equipment sales.

The Justice Department asked a federal judge to dismiss its case against Jonathan Spiller, Haim Geri, and Daniel Alvirez, who had previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate a U.S. foreign bribery law.

The defendants were charged with trying to bribe a supposed African defense minister, but the scheme had been orchestrated as an elaborate undercover operation by the FBI.

The defendants' status was thrown into doubt last month, when the prosecutors dropped the case against 16 other defendants who were rounded up in the sting operation over two years ago but decided to fight the case.

Three more were also previously acquitted.

The Justice Department does not often dismiss entire cases, and dropping charges after defendants have already pleaded guilty is also a rare occurrence.

The department said it "concluded that further prosecution" of the charges against the three defendants is "unlikely to be successful."

A hearing in the case is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

The case is USA v. Goncalves et al, in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 09-cr-335.

(Reporting By Aruna Viswanatha; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)