The Justice Department issued a statement Monday afternoon in response to a story in ticklethewire. com in which a defense attorney accused a California FBI agent of using thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money to pay for prostitutes in the Philippines for himself and three defendants in a arms trafficking sting.
“We will contest the factual assumptions and legal significance of the defendant’s challenges in due course,” Justice Department spokeswoman Rebekah Carmichael said in a statement.
John Littrell, a deputy Federal Public Defender, who represents one of the three defendants wrote in a court document filed in Los Angeles federal court on Sept. 17:
“In order to induce the defendants to participate, an undercover agent spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on prostitutes for himself and for the defendants,” Littrell wrote. “Many of these prostitutes were likely minors. These crimes were not victimless. Indeed, only months after an undercover agent paid thousands of dollars of taxpayer money for prostitutes at a well-known brothel in Manila, the Philippine government raided the brothel, and rescued twenty under-aged girls.”
Littrell has asked the judge to dismiss the case based on “outrageous governmental misconduct,” citing the use of prostitutes in the case — including for the agent — and allegations that the FBI manufactured the case after it failed to find real weapons traffickers in its investigation into Transnational Asian Organized Crime that began in 2010 and ended in December 2011 with criminal charges. A Nov. 13 trial has been set.
“The defendants became involved in this offense only after the government’s effort to ensnare a true weapons trafficker fell apart,” the court documents says. “More importantly, the actual crimes charged in this case — importing weapons to the United States — were committed by federal agents acting unilaterially , without help from the defendants.” In other words, he alleged, that the FBI agents, not the defendants, actually shipped the weapons to the U.S., and the FBI deliberately lied on customs declarations — all so the FBI could charge the defendants with illegal importation of weapons.
The Philippino defendants Sergio Santiago Syjuco, Cesar Ubaldo and Arjyl Revereza are charged with conspiracy and importation of firearms. Littrell, who represents Syjuco, alleges that the defendants were not weapons traffickers, but the FBI pushed them into obtaining and selling guns. Authorities allege that the defendants sold weapons and helped facilitate the importation of the weapons to the U.S.