With the first trial of a group of men charged in an undercover foreign bribery sting just weeks away, the prosecutors and defense lawyers in the case this week filed proposed jury questions that examine firearms, travel and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Prosecutors proposed questions that include whether any prospective juror believes it’s acceptable for the government to hold foreign nationals accountable for bribery when the crime occurs in the United States. The government also pitched a question that asked whether foreign bribery is just a cost of doing business in some countries.
“Do you feel that foreign bribery is acceptable if it is done indirectly, through a third-party or middleman, and not directly to a foreign government official?” prosecutors asked. The government's proposed questions are here.
The first four defendants set for trial May 12—Pankesh Patel, John Wier III, Andrew Bigelow and Lee Allen Tolleson—were charged with 18 other executives and employees in the military and law enforcement equipment industry. Prosecutors allege the defendants participated in a conspiracy to bribe the defense minister of Gabon.
The $15 million deal was fictitious, and Gabonese officials were never part of any sale. Among the government’s proposed jury questions, prosecutors ask whether any prospective panel member “believes law enforcement should not use ‘sting’ operations or other deceptive practices in its investigations of criminal offenses.”
Defense lawyers for the four men want prospective jurors to address whether they’ve lived abroad—where and for how long. The attorneys also want to know whether any prospective juror has heard of the nation of Gabon and whether any jurors have conducted business with a foreign country. Click here for a copy of the questions the defense proposed.
The defense attorneys also proposed questions about firearms in general and the business of military equipment sales. For example: “Have you or a family member ever belonged to or contributed to an organization opposed to the individual possession of firearms?”
One of the defendants is a British citizen of Indian descent. His lawyer wants prospective jurors to address whether they harbor any bias against British people or people of Indian heritage.