A former FBI agent and two others have been charged in the Southern District of New York with engaging in a bribery scheme to secure confidential, internal law enforcement documents about a prominent individual in Bangladesh.
Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York, and Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz of the Department of Justice made the announcement.
Robert Lustyik, 50, a former FBI special agent in the White Plains Resident Agency, is accused in a criminal complaint of conspiring with his friend, Johannes Thaler, 49, of soliciting cash payments from Thaler’s acquaintance, Rizve Ahmed, 34, aka “Caesar,” in exchange for confidential, internal law enforcement documents and information that Lustyik could access by virtue of his position at the FBI. Ahmed and Thaler were arrested today on the charges in the complaint and will be presented later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge George A. Yanthis in the federal court in White Plains. Lustyik is currently detained in connection with an unrelated indictment in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, where he will be initially presented on the charges in the complaint.
Lustyik, Thaler, and Ahmed are each charged in a four-count complaint. Count one charges Lustyik, Thaler, and Ahmed with conspiring to bribe a public official. Count two charges Lustyik and Thaler with soliciting and receiving bribes. Count three charges Ahmed with bribing a public official and offering to bribe a public official. Count four charges Lustyik with unlawfully disclosing a Suspicious Activity Report.
If convicted, Lustyik, of Westchester County, faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison. Thaler, of Fairfield County, Conn., faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Ahmed, of Fairfield County, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
According to allegations in the complaint unsealed today in the White Plains federal courthouse, from about September 2011 through March 2012, Lustyik, Thaler and Ahmed engaged in a bribery scheme on behalf of Ahmed, a native of Bangladesh who sought confidential law enforcement information pertaining to a prominent citizen of Bangladesh who was affiliated with an opposing political party (Individual 1). Ahmed sought, among other things, to obtain information about Individual 1, to locate Individual 1, and to harm Individual 1 and others associated with Individual 1.
As part of the scheme, Lustyik and Thaler exchanged text messages, including messages about how to pressure Ahmed to pay them additional money in exchange for confidential information. For example, in text messages, Lustyik told Thaler, “we need to push [Ahmed] for this meeting and get that 40 gs quick . . . . I will talk us into getting the cash . . . . I will work my magic . . . . We r sooooooo close.” Thaler responded, “I know. It’s all right there in front of us. Pretty soon we’ll be having lunch in our oceanfront restaurant . . . .” As another example, in or about late January 2012, Lustyik, upon learning that Ahmed was considering using a different source to obtain confidential information about Individual 1, texted Thaler, “I want to kill [Ahmed] . . . . I hung my [***] out the window n we got nothing? . . . . Tell [Ahmed], I’ve got [Individual 1’s] number and I’m pissed. . . . I will put a wire on n get [Ahmed and his associates] to admit they want [a Bangladeshi political figure] offed n we sell it to [Individual 1].”
According to the complaint, Lustyik and Thaler accepted at least $1,000 from Ahmed in exchange for confidential FBI information, including a Suspicious Activity Report. The complaint also alleges that Lustyik and Thaler schemed to obtain monthly cash bribes from Ahmed, in increments of tens of thousands of dollars, in exchange for the provision of additional confidential law enforcement information about Individual 1 and for assistance in having criminal charges against a Bangladeshi political figure dismissed.
This case was investigated by the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General. The prosecution is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York’s White Plains Division and by the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’ Criminal Division. Assistant U. S. Attorney Benjamin Allee and Trial Attorney Emily Rae Woods are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.