A wide-ranging and extensive Justice Department investigation into allegations of bribery of foreign officials has been derailed in court by racy and vulgar text messages sent between FBI agents and informants. Despite two federal court trials, the Justice Department has failed to secure a single conviction, The Washington Post
Defense lawyers used the texts that joked about sex, prostitutes, and wives and girlfriends to question the credibility of FBI agents.
“It was just foolish,” Steven Levin, a former federal prosecutor in Maryland, told the Post. “Jurors are loath to convict if they feel that both the informant and the law enforcement officers have acted improperly.”
One trial involved six men and women charged with bribing officials to win a contract with a foreign government. Defense attorney Steven McCool used the messages to accuse an agent of bigotry and misogyny. Another defense attorney, whose client was acquitted by a judge before the case reached the jury, said the texts showed that “the FBI had established no appropriate boundaries” with the informant, the Post reported.
A Justice Department spokeswoman told the Post in a statement that prosecutors have told a federal judge that as a result of the first two trials the government is evaluating “whether to continue to go forward” with the remaining prosecutions of 16 defendants. Of the 16, seven had already gone to trial and ended in hung juries.
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