Miami, Fla. - In December, Carlton Fields shareholders Stephen J. Bronis and Paul A. Calli obtained the acquittal of client Stephen Giordanella in the largest foreign bribery case in U.S. history. After a 12-week jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Richard J. Leon entered a judgment acquitting Mr. Giordanella of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), finding that the evidence was insufficient to send his case to the jury. Mr. Giordanella was the only one of the six accused individuals to be acquitted at that stage of the case. The media covered this news heavily.
Since that time, jurors acquitted two of the accused individuals and hung as to the remaining three. This result is a complete repudiation of the theory of prosecution, which involved a “sting.” Recently, the jury foreman spoke out about the case on the FCPA Professor Blog and discussed the jury’s total rejection of the prosecution theory:
“ … very little of the jury’s deliberations took into account the testimony of prosecution witnesses. In part, that is because the jury with near unanimity found nearly all of the prosecution witnesses to be evasive and combative. The very low view of their credibility was also based on the concerns of many jurors related to the nature of the sting operation.”
The jury foreman went further and explained that many jurors appeared to believe “that the defendants had acted in good faith and the FBI/DOJ in bad faith.” He added, “[T]he decision of the government to prosecute at least one defendant who seemed to most of the jurors to be clearly innocent leant greater weight to concerns that the government was conducting the sting or prosecutions in bad faith.”
The prosecution is now considering abandoning its case against the remaining individuals it targeted. The prosecution has asked Judge Leon to hit the “pause button” while the Department of Justice decides whether it believes it still has viable cases in light of the jury’s – and the court’s – rejection of its case.
For more information regarding the FCPA see:
- FCPA Compliance: Tone at the Top, Train at the Bottom, by Catherine “Katie” Salinas and Karen Fortune
- Rebuilding Haiti: Beware of the FCPA, by Catherine “Katie” Salinas and Karen Fortune