Man Offers Guilty Plea, Upending Terror Case

June 14, 2012

The New York Times on June 13, 2012 released the following:

“By BENJAMIN WEISER

A terrorism case in Manhattan that raised key questions about government interrogation tactics ended abruptly on Wednesday after the defendant pleaded guilty to conspiring to support a Somali terrorist group.

The defendant, an Eritrean man named Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed, admitted in Federal District Court that he trained in a camp run by the Somali group, Al Shabab, in 2009. The case had been seen as a potential test of the Obama administration’s strategy of interrogating terrorism suspects for both intelligence and law enforcement purposes.

Indeed, the plea came as the judge, P. Kevin Castel, was poised to rule on a motion by Mr. Ahmed’s lawyers seeking suppression of statements he had made to the Federal Bureau of Investigation while he was in custody in Nigeria; his lawyers argued that the statements had not been voluntary and, thus, were inadmissible.

“I have in my hand a 60-page draft of the decision on the motion to suppress,” Judge Castel, holding up a thick document, said in court before accepting Mr. Ahmed’s plea. The judge did not reveal how he would have ruled on the motion, but said that the ruling itself would “now be suppressed.”

Mr. Ahmed, 38, who had lived in Sweden, was scheduled for trial on July 9. He had been accused of providing material support to a terrorist group, receiving training and bomb-making instruction in Shabab military camps in Somalia in 2009 and using a firearm in a crime of violence. The firearm count alone carried a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years and a maximum sentence of life in prison. As a result of Mr. Ahmed’s plea — to two conspiracy counts — he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years when he is sentenced on Nov. 2, the judge said in court.

Mr. Ahmed’s lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, said after the proceeding, “I’m sure Mr. Ahmed would have liked to have challenged the actions of the United States.” But, she added, given the difference between a maximum 10-year sentence and what could have resulted from a guilty verdict, it would have been a “humongous risk” to go to trial.

Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said Mr. Ahmed had “traveled a long way from his home in Sweden to Somalia, where he took up the cause of Al Shabab, a deadly terrorist organization and sworn enemy of the United States and its people.”

Mr. Ahmed told the judge that in Somalia, he contributed 2,000 euros to Al Shabab and trained in one of its military camps, knowing that the United States considered it a terrorist organization.

Mr. Ahmed was taken into custody by Nigeria in 2009 under suspicion of being an agent for Al Qaeda. He was later interrogated by separate groups of American officials, known colloquially as “dirty” and “clean” teams.

The first team questioned him for intelligence purposes, without advising him of his rights, prosecutors have said. About a week later, a second team, of F.B.I. agents, read him his rights, which he waived, and he began to make incriminating statements, the government says. An issue before the judge had been how separate the American officials kept the two interrogations.

A prosecutor, Benjamin Naftalis, told Judge Castel that had the case gone to trial, the evidence would have included Mr. Ahmed’s statements and testimony from cooperating witnesses. Prosecutors have said a former Shabab military commander has been cooperating; although he has not been identified, his description resembles that of Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, a Somali captured by the United States military last year and questioned aboard a naval vessel for about two months.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


S.E.C. Told to Share Notes in Insider Trading Case

March 28, 2012

The New York Times on March 27, 2012 released the following:

“BY PETER LATTMAN

A federal judge has ordered Securities and Exchange Commission lawyers to turn over their notes to federal prosecutors handling the criminal case against Rajat K. Gupta, a former director of Goldman Sachs.

The ruling was part of a flurry of pretrial orders from Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who is presiding over the case.

Mr. Gupta, who is charged with leaking Goldman’s boardroom secrets to his friend, the convicted hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, is scheduled to go on trial May 21.

Among the more significant orders, Judge Rakoff said federal prosecutors must review the S.E.C.’s notes about 44 interviews of witnesses during its investigation of Mr. Gupta and disclose any exculpatory evidence to the defense. Federal prosecutors in the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan, who jointly conducted the 44 interviews with the S.E.C., argued that they had no obligation to review the S.E.C.’s notes because the two investigations were separate.

Judge Rakoff disagreed with the government’s position.

“That separate government agencies having overlapping jurisdiction will cooperate in the factual investigation of the same alleged misconduct makes perfect sense; but that they can then disclaim such cooperation to avoid their respective discovery obligations makes no sense at all,” Judge Rakoff wrote.

The S.E.C. and the Justice Department have long run parallel investigations, but the line between them can often become blurred. Judge Rakoff noted that there was a constitutional duty for prosecutors to disclose any exculpatory evidence — called Brady material — to the defense, regardless of whether the notes came from the S.E.C.

“To hold that these memoranda were not created as part of a joint factual investigation would make a mockery of the ‘joint investigation’ standard as applied to the defendant’s constitutional right to receive all information the government has available to it that tends to show his innocence,” Judge Rakoff wrote.

In other rulings, Judge Rakoff ordered that Lloyd C. Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, must sit for an additional two hours of depositions to be taken by Mr. Gupta’s lawyers. Mr. Blankfein was deposed for seven hours last month, and is expected to be a witness at Mr. Gupta’s trial.

The dispute over Mr. Blankfein’s testimony arose when, during the February deposition, Mr. Gupta’s lawyer asked Mr. Blankfein whom he had met with to prepare for the deposition. He responded that he had met with both federal prosecutors, S.E.C. lawyers and an F.B.I. agent. When Mr. Gupta’s lawyer asked Mr. Blankfein what the government asked at these meetings, the S.E.C. objected, citing work product protections.

Judge Rakoff ruled that Mr. Blankfein must answer these questions.

“By asking Blankfein what topics he recalls were discussed, what questions he was asked and what documents he was shown, defendants seek to discover how the preparation sessions affected Blankfein’s testimony, and do not demonstrate a mere naked attempt to obtain the S.E.C.’s and the U.S.A.O.’s legal opinions and strategy,” the judge wrote.

Judge Rakoff also issued several rulings that went against Mr. Gupta. He denied his lawyers’ motion to suppress the use of wiretaps at trial and to dismiss three of the counts in the government’s complaint that were claimed to be either vague or duplicative.

On the wiretap issue, Judge Rakoff said: “The simple truth is that, in both this and numerous other cases, insider trading cannot often be detected, let alone successfully prosecuted, without the aid of wiretaps.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.