Co-Defendants In Scheme To Bribe FBI Agent Sentenced In White Plains Federal Court
Preet Bharara, the United States 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,” were sentenced yesterday in White Plains federal court to 30 months and 42 months in prison, respectively. THALER and AHMED were sentenced in connection with a bribery scheme with a third defendant, former FBI Special Agent Robert Lustyik, who awaits sentencing. The sentences were imposed by the Honorable Vincent L. Briccetti, United States District Judge.
According to the Complaint, the Indictment, court hearings, and yesterday’s proceedings:
Lustyik was a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) 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 in or about September 2011 through March 2012, Lustyik, THALER, and AHMED engaged in a bribery scheme. As part of the scheme, 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. The documents and information pertained to a prominent citizen of Bangladesh (“Individual 1”). AHMED perceived himself on the opposite side of a political rivalry with 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 . . . .”
For 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 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 texted THALER, “So bottom line. I need ten gs asap. We gotta squeeze C.”
THALER, 51, of New Fairfield, Connecticut, and AHMED, 35, of Danbury, Connecticut, were each sentenced for bribery and conspiracy to commit fraud, to which each previously pled guilty.
Lustyik, 52, of Westchester County, pled guilty on December 23, 2014, to all five counts in the Indictment in which he is charged. Lustyik pled guilty to (1) conspiracy to engage in a bribery scheme; (2) soliciting bribes by a public official; (3) conspiracy to defraud the citizens of the United States and the FBI; (4) theft of government property; and (5) unauthorized disclosure of a Suspicious Activity Report. Lustyik is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Briccetti on April 30, 2015, at 9:30 a.m.
Mr. Bharara praised the efforts of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, which conducted the investigation in this case.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division and by the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice. Assistant United States Attorney Benjamin Allee and Trial Attorney Emily Rae Woods are in charge of the prosecution.