Co-Conspirators Plead Guilty To Bribery Scheme In White Plains Federal Court
Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York , Leslie R. Caldwell, the Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department Inspector General, announced that JOHANNES THALER, and RIZVE AHMED, a/k/a “Caesar,” a native of Bangladesh and co-conspirator of THALER, pled guilty today in White Plains federal court to bribery and conspiracy to commit honest services and wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Vincent L. Briccetti.
According to the Complaint, the Indictment, court hearings, and today’s plea proceeding:
Both THALER and AHMED admitted to participating in a bribery scheme with Robert Lustyik, a former FBI Special Agent in White Plains, whereby Lustyik sold confidential, internal law enforcement information to AHMED in exchange for cash.
Lustyik was an FBI Special Agent who worked on the counterintelligence squad in the White Plains Resident Agency. THALER was Lustyik’s friend, and AHMED was an acquaintance of THALER.
From about September 2011 through March 2012, Lustyik and THALER solicited payments of money 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. AHMED was a native of Bangladesh who sought confidential law enforcement information, including a Suspicious Activity Report, pertaining to a prominent Bangladeshi political figure who was affiliated with a political party opposing AHMED’s views (“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, THALER and AHMED exchanged text messages, including text messages about a “contract” the terms of which would require AHMED to pay a $40,000 “retainer” and $30,000 “monthly” and, in return, Lustyik and THALER would “give [AHMED] everything [they] ha[d] plus set up [Individual 1] and get the inside from the party.”
Lustyik and THALER also exchanged text 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 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 texted THALER, “So bottom line. I need ten gs asap. We gotta squeeze C.”
Lustyik and THALER accepted at least $1,000 from AHMED in exchange for the confidential FBI information, including a Suspicious Activity Report. Lustyik and THALER schemed to obtain additional monthly cash bribes from AHMED, in increments of tens of thousands of dollars, in exchange for additional confidential law enforcement information about Individual 1 and for assistance in having criminal charges against a Bangladeshi political figure dismissed.
THALER, 51, of New Fairfield, Connecticut, pled guilty to one count of bribery and one count of conspiracy to commit honest services and wire fraud. He faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison. THALER is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Briccetti at 11:30 a.m. on January 23, 2015.
AHMED, 35, of Danbury, Connecticut, pled guilty to one count of bribery and one count of conspiracy to commit honest services and wire fraud. He faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison. AHMED is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Briccetti at 2:30 p.m. on January 23, 2015.
The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Charges against Lustyik, the other defendant who was charged with THALER and AHMED, remain pending. These charges are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Trial is scheduled to begin on November 17, 2014.
This case was investigated by the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Emily Rae Woods of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Allee of the White Plains Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.