UPDATE 1-U.S. drops remaining charges in arms bribery case

Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:08pm GMT

* The defendants had pleaded guilty after foreign bribery sting

* Unusual for gov't to drop charges after plea

* US had dismissed case against 16 other defendants last month

* Case involved sting purporting to seek bribes for Gabonese official

By Aruna Viswanatha

WASHINGTON, March 27 (Reuters) - U.S. federal prosecutors on Tuesday dropped the remaining charges arising out of a bribery sting involving arms sales and an FBI agent who posed as an African defense official, letting three men who had already pleaded guilty off the hook.

A U.S. district judge said he would grant the Justice Department's request to dismiss its case against Jonathan Spiller, a British citizen residing in the United States, and two Americans, Haim Geri and Daniel Alvirez. The three had previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate a U.S. foreign bribery law, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The defendants were charged with trying to bribe a supposed Gabonese defense minister - actually an undercover agent acting in an elaborate operation run by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. All three were in the business of supplying military and law enforcement equipment.

Geri faced up to two years in prison, Spiller faced between three and four years, and Alvirez faced up to nine years because he also pleaded guilty to charges outside the sting operation. In dismissing the charges, the government asked for the ability to bring the separate case against Alvirez again.   Continued...

Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.