- "Last October, a large group of executives in the defense products industry gathered in bustling Clyde's restaurant in downtown Washington, D.C., for a celebratory business meeting," Main Justice's Christopher M. Matthew reports:
They came from all corners of the United States and as far away as Israel and the United Kingdom. Some of them knew each other. Others had just met. But none of them realized the meeting was being videotaped by the FBI.
At the table that day was a man they knew as an agent for the minister of defense in the central African country of Gabon, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The agent, with whom the men believed they had reached deals to outfit the African country's presidential guard, conveyed the minister of defense's compliments.
The minister was pleased with the grenade launchers sent by Arkansas-based Daniel Alvirez and Lee Allen Tolleson, the agent said, according to a federal indictment. And he let Andrew Bigelow know that the M4 rifles his Florida-based company had provided were a big hit, according to another indictment.
Then, all 22 businessmen raised their glasses to toast the man who'd brought them together: Richard T. Bistrong, a well-connected former executive at Armor Holdings, now a subsidiary of BAE, according to the person familiar with the matter.
At the time, none of the 22 executives was aware that the purported representative of Gabon was actually an undercover FBI agent, and that Bistrong had been working with the government to build its case. ...
The 22 individuals were named in 16 indictments filed under seal in December and made public last month. The indictments made no mention of a giant conspiracy involving all the defendants, but the government's more expansive theory of the case emerged in a court hearing last week. ...