Federal Witness Indicted For Obstruction Of Justice And For Soliciting A Bribe From A Defendant
Federal Witness Allegedly Sought a $5,000 Payment to Testify Falsely or Refuse to Testify at Federal Trial
Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal grand jury has returned an indictment charging Jolen Michael Ghorbani, a/k/a “Jay,” age 28, formerly of Fairfax, Virginia, for bribery of a witness and obstruction of justice, in connection with a criminal trial in which Ghorbani was a witness. The indictment was returned on October 19, 2022, and unsealed today upon Ghorbani’s arrest.
The defendant is expected have an initial appearance tomorrow in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Wayne Jacobs of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Washington Field Office Criminal Division; and Chief Malik Aziz of the Prince George’s County Police Department.
According to the three-count indictment, on February 3, 2021, Ghorbani was the victim of a kidnapping, assault, and robbery committed by Tray David Sherman and Sherman’s co-conspirators. During the kidnapping, Ghorbani was transported from Maryland to Washington, D.C. where Sherman and his co-conspirators assaulted and robbed Ghorbani. Sherman was indicted and arrested on March 31, 2021, for conspiracy to commit kidnapping.
The indictment alleges that Ghorbani used a social meida account to send a series of direct messages to Sherman, including a message where Ghorbani sent his telephone number to Sherman and said “[C]all me If you want to finesse trial.” Approximately three weeks before the scheduled start of Sherman’s trial, Ghorbani sent another series of messages to Sherman through his social media account, this time soliciting a payment of $5,000 from Sherman in exchange for Ghorbani’s agreement to testify falsely or to refuse to testify at all at Sherman’s trial. Ghorbani shared the messages he sent to Sherman with another individual, bragging that he (Ghorbani) was “[d]ancing with the devil,” and telling that person, “I’m auctioning off his freedom.”
If convicted, Ghorbani faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison for bribery and a maximum of 10 years in federal prison for obstruction of justice. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the FBI Washington Field Office and the Prince George’s County Police Department for their work in the investigation and thanked the FBI Miami Field Office for its assistance. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey J. Izant and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared C. Engelking, who are prosecuting the case.
For more information on the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office, its priorities, and resources available to help the community, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-md and https://www.justice.gov/usao-md/community-outreach.
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