Robert Lustyik, Former FBI Special Agent, Pleads Guilty To Bribery Scheme 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 ROBERT LUSTYIK, a former Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), pleaded guilty today in White Plains federal court to all counts with which he is charged, including bribery, conspiracy to commit fraud, and theft of government property. LUSTYIK pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Vincent L. Briccetti,.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “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. 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.”
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said: “Robert Lustyik discarded the FBI’s principles of ‘fidelity, bravery, and integrity,’ and sold his badge to the highest bidder. 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.”
Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said: “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.”
According to the Complaint, the 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. LUSTYIK’s co-defendant, Johannes Thaler, was LUSTYIK’s friend, and LUSTYIK’s other co-defendant, Rizve 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 to be 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 . . . .”
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 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.”
LUSTYIK, 52, of Westchester County, pleaded guilty to all five counts in the Indictment in which he is charged. LUSTYIK pleaded 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. He faces a maximum sentence of 55 years in prison. LUSTYIK is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Briccetti on April 30, 2015, at 9:30 a.m.
Thaler and Ahmed previously pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy to commit fraud before Judge Briccetti. Thaler, 51, of New Fairfield, Connecticut, faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Briccetti on January 23, 2015, at 11:30 a.m. Ahmed, 35, of Danbury, Connecticut, faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Briccetti on January 23, 2015, at 2:30 p.m. 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.
Mr. Bharara praised the efforts of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, which conducted the investigation in this case, and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network for the U.S. Department of Treasury.
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.