Over the Justice Department's objection, a federal judge in Washington today set a sentencing date for a key figure in the government's failed foreign bribery sting case here.
The informant, Richard Bistrong, who pleaded guilty to a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violation in an unrelated case, will be sentenced July 31, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said at a hearing this afternoon in Washington. Bistrong faces up to five years in prison.
Joey Lipton, a Justice Department fraud section trial attorney, asked Leon to postpone Bistrong's sentencing. Leon said the government is continuing to investigate real-world deals involving Bistrong, a former sales representatives at Armor Holdings, Inc. (BAE Systems Plc. Later bought Armor.)
Extending the sentencing date, Lipton said, would allow Bistrong to maximize his cooperation with the Justice Department. Bistrong’s lawyer, Brady Toensing of Washington’s diGenova & Toensing, asked Leon to sentence Bistrong in the early fall.
Leon today said he is intimately familiar with the scope of Bistrong’s cooperation with federal investigators and prosecutors. Bistrong’s cooperation was the centerpiece of the government’s novel FCPA sting case—a prosecution the government abandoned after two mistrials.
In an undercover sting, prosecutors nabbed 22 military and law enforcement equipment executives and employees on charges they participated in a conspiracy to bribe a government official in Gabon. Bistrong served as a middle man, connecting sellers to the fictitious buyer in Gabon.
Defense lawyers in the case attacked Bistrong’s credibility. The defense lawyers also argued that FBI agents and prosecutors essentially let Bistrong call the shots during the investigation.
Bistrong pleaded guilty in September 2010 in Washington federal district court to a charge that he participated in a conspiracy to pay bribes to win United Nations contracts for body armor.