Former DEA Agent Pleads Guilty To Tax Evasion And Witness Tampering
Tampa, Florida – United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Samuel Murad (62, Clearwater) has pleaded guilty to tax evasion and witness tampering. He faces a maximum penalty of 5 years’ imprisonment for the tax evasion count and up to 20 years in federal prison for the witness tampering count. His sentencing hearing has been set for August 4, 2016.
According to the plea agreement, in the mid-1990’s, while working as a DEA Special Agent, Murad served as the case agent in an investigation of a marijuana importation conspiracy. One of the participants in that conspiracy, J.P., was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Around 2009, after Murad had retired from the DEA, J.P.’s attorney hired Murad to assist with their effort to obtain a reduction in J.P.’s prison sentence. Because Murad was the former case agent in this investigation, he was prohibited by federal law from being physically present in any formal or informal setting on behalf of J.P., to include meeting with an employee of DEA, or appearing on behalf of J.P. before a judge. DEA’s Office of Professional Responsibility also advised Murad that he could not communicate with the government on behalf of J.P. with the intent to influence the government.
Around this time, J.P.’s attorney met with DEA Special Agent Robert Joseph Quinn about plans to initiate an effort to obtain a sentence reduction for J.P. During their meeting, J.P.’s attorney informed Agent Quinn that Murad — a friend and former colleague of Quinn — was involved in the effort to reduce J.P.’s prison sentence. After this meeting, Agent Quinn contacted Murad about the sentence reduction effort. During their conversation, Murad asked Agent Quinn to handle, on the DEA end, the effort to obtain a sentence reduction for J.P. Agent Quinn then communicated with representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office to explore the possibility of obtaining the sentence reduction.
In June 2012, once arrests had been made related to J.P.’s cooperation efforts, Murad became frustrated at the prospect of not getting paid for his involvement in the J.P. matter. Murad sent a series of emails to J.P.’s brother demanding large sums of money to stay involved. In one email, Murad asked for $700,000 and said, “if we can’t come [to] some kind of understanding, then you guys get to keep your money and [J.P.] stays in jail because good luck getting him out without my testimony.” In a subsequent meeting with J.P.’s brother, Murad demanded $750,000 to stay involved in the matter. Ultimately, J.P.’s brother agreed to pay Murad $500,000 in cash.
On Friday, August 17, 2012, J.P.’s brother handed Murad a shopping bag containing $223,000 in cash. During this meeting, Murad asked J.P.’s brother how much money he had in his wallet. J.P.’s brother showed Murad that he had $800 in his wallet; Murad took that money and added it to the shopping bag full of cash. Murad also told J.P.’s brother to tell J.P. to “shut up” on the prison telephone. Although Murad did not tell J.P.’s brother why he gave this instruction, Murad knew that J.P.’s jail calls were being monitored by law enforcement.
After this meeting, Murad told Agent Quinn that he had received over $200,000 in cash from J.P.’s brother and had put it in a safe deposit box. Murad laughed that he had to get a larger safe deposit box because there was so much cash. Murad never paid taxes on the $223,800 he received from J.P.’s brother.
The FBI then began investigating the effort to obtain a sentence reduction for J.P. In an interview on November 22, 2013, Agent Quinn lied about Murad not receiving any money, other than expenses, for his work on the J.P. matter. After his interview with the FBI, Murad met with Agent Quinn and directed Quinn not to talk to the FBI. Murad attempted to corruptly persuade Agent Quinn not to provide the FBI with information about the $223,800 cash payment and Murad’s concealment of those funds in the safe deposit box.
On February 13, 2014, the FBI executed a search warrant on Murad’s safe deposit box and seized $73,420. Pursuant to a seizure warrant, the FBI also seized $60,139.03 from Murad’s checking account. The day after the search, Murad met with Quinn (who had retired from the DEA) and accused him of saying too much to the FBI, which Quinn denied. Murad, again, instructed Quinn not to talk to the FBI any further. Two months later, in his second interview with the FBI, Quinn lied again about Murad not getting paid by J.P.’s family. After being confronted by the FBI, Quinn ultimately told the truth.
Quinn previously pleaded guilty for his role in this case. His sentencing hearing has been set for May 11, 2016.
This case was investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Simon Gaugush and Josephine Thomas.