Former FBI Special Agent Pleads Guilty to Bribery Scheme
A former FBI special agent pleaded guilty today to bribery charges, admitting that he provided internal law enforcement documents and other confidential information about a prominent citizen of Bangladesh for use by a political rival in exchange for cash.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York and Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz made the announcement.
“Robert Lustyik discarded the FBI’s principles of ‘fidelity, bravery, and integrity,’ and sold his badge to the highest bidder,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “Greed has no place in public service or law enforcement. The Department of Justice will root out corruption wherever it takes hold, and hold accountable those who abuse the public’s trust for personal gain.”
“Robert Lustyik today admitted to conducting a bribery scheme in which, for his own personal gain, he secretly sold information and documents to which he had access as an FBI agent,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara. “Lustyik betrayed our system of justice: he breached not only the law, but also his sworn oath, and the great trust and confidence placed in him by citizens and colleagues. For his criminal conduct he now faces, as he must, serious, commensurate penalties.”
“The Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to identify, investigate, and bring to justice all DOJ employees who engage misconduct,” said Inspector General Horowitz.
Robert Lustyik, 52, of Westchester County, New York, pleaded guilty to all five counts in the indictment against him, including conspiracy to engage in a bribery scheme, soliciting bribes by a public official, conspiracy to defraud the citizens of the United States and the FBI, theft of government property, and unauthorized disclosure of a Suspicious Activity Report. Lustyik is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Vincent L. Briccetti of the Southern District of New York on April 30, 2015.
According to the complaint, indictment, court hearings, and today’s plea proceeding, Lustyik was an FBI special agent who worked on the counterintelligence squad in the White Plains Resident Agency. Johannes Thaler was Lustyik’s friend, and Rizve Ahmed, aka, “Caesar,” was an acquaintance of Thaler. From September 2011 through March 2012, Lustyik, Thaler and Ahmed engaged in a bribery scheme. As part of the scheme, Lustyik and Thaler solicited payments from Ahmed, in exchange for Lustyik’s agreement to provide internal, confidential documents and other confidential information to which Lustyik had access by virtue of his position as an FBI special agent. The documents and information pertained to a prominent citizen of Bangladesh (Individual 1), who Ahmed perceived as a political rival. Ahmed sought, among other things, to obtain information about Individual 1, to locate and 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 late January 2012, Lustyik, upon learning that Ahmed was considering using a different source to obtain confidential information about Individual 1, sent a text message to Thaler stating, “I want to kill C . . . . I hung my ass 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].” Lustyik further stated, “So bottom line. I need ten gs asap. We gotta squeeze C.”
Thaler and Ahmed previously pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy to commit fraud, and are scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 23, 2015.
The case was investigated by the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, and prosecuted by Trial Attorney Emily Rae Woods of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Allee of the Southern District of New York.