Attorneys for the second group of defendants in a large foreign bribery sting case in Washington met today for a pretrial conference, a sign that the case is moving forward after a mistrial was declared last month for the first group of defendants.
As previously reported in the Legal Times, the July mistrial for the first group of four defendants – there are 22 defendants total – has complicated scheduling for the dozens of prosecutors and defense attorneys in the already complex proceedings.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon set a trial date for the second group of defendants for Sept. 22. A status conference scheduled for today was converted to a pretrial conference, an indication that the court and attorneys are preparing for the next go-around.
Prosecutors have said that they intend to retry the first group of defendants. Leon declared a mistrial July 7 after the jury was unable to reach a decision. Defense lawyers have asked that a retrial be scheduled after all the rest of the defendants are tried.
The pretrial conference took place in Leon’s courtroom this morning but was closed to the public. A court official said Leon typically holds pretrial conferences in his chambers, but had to move this one to the courtroom because there were too many attorneys.
The defendants are charged with participating in a bribery scheme involving the defense minister of Gabon in violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Previous coverage of the case can be found here.