U.S. District Judge Richard Leon declared a mistrial Thursday in a massive foreign bribery case after the jury deadlocked.
Four men, Pankesh Patel, Andrew Bigelow, John Benson Weir and Lee Allen Tolleson, were charged in connection with allegations they violated the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
The mistrial came after seven days of deliberation and a nearly six-week-long trial that was seen as a test case for the Justice Department’s stringent enforcement of the law, which prohibits bribes to foreign officials to win business.
After several notes from the jury saying that they were incapable of reaching a unanimous decision on any of the charges, Leon declared a mistrial. Prosecutor Joey Lipton said the government would re-try all four defendants.
Twenty-two defense products executives were charged in 16 sealed indictments filed in December 2009 with violating and conspiring to violate the FCPA as well as conspiracy to launder money. Leon had thrown out the money laundering charges.
The indictments were unsealed in January 2010 after the arrests of all but one of the defendants in a dramatic roundup at a gun show in Las Vegas. The defendants have since been broken into four separate trial groups, and defendants Patel, Bigelow, Weir and Tolleson make up the first group.
The case is the culmination of a two and half year sting operation in which FBI agents, in coordination with an industry executive turned informant , posed as representatives of Gabon, allegedly soliciting $1.5 million in bribes for a fictitious $15 million deal to supply the Ministry of Defense. Actual representatives of Gabon were not involved in the deal.
The sting marked the first wide-scale use of aggressive investigative techniques like wiretaps and informants in an FCPA case and coincides with the department’s expansion of its FCPA enforcement regime.
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department said the prosecution was grateful for the jury’s service. Defense attorneys declined to comment.
UPDATED: 8:40 p.m.