A federal judge in Los Angeles has issued a tentative ruling that would dismiss the corruption convictions of executives at an Azusa power transmission equipment maker because of misconduct by prosecutors.
U.S. District Judge Howard Matz said he expected to issue a final ruling on Wednesday.
In May, a federal jury convicted Lindsey Manufacturing Co., its president, Keith Lindsey, and vice president, Steve K. Lee, of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which make it a crime for U.S. firms to bribe foreign government officials.
Prosecutors had argued that the company hired a salesman in Mexico to bribe an official with the country's state-owned electricity utility to secure business for the company. Lindsey makes emergency electricity towers.
In May, defense attorneys asked Matz to dismiss the convictions because of “intentional government misconduct,” accusing FBI agents of making false statements in testimony to a grand jury and in a request for a search warrant.
Justice Department prosecutors were aware the testimony was false and did not correct it, defense attorney Jan L. Handzlik argued in the dismissal motion.
A government attorney acknowledged that the prosecution had made some missteps during the case.
“We regret those mistakes,” Justice Department attorney Jeffrey Goldberg told Matz at a hearing Tuesday, according to Bloomberg News. “We strive to get it right every time, and in this case we didn’t get it right every time.”
Matz's tentative ruling would dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning prosecutors would not be permitted to seek a second trial. Their only option would be to appeal Matz’s ruling.
Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, declined to comment Wednesday.
“We are awaiting the court’s final ruling. We will review when it is finalized,” Mrozek said.
-- Stuart Pfeifer
Photo: Lindsey Manufacturing Co. makes power transmission equipment Credit: Lindsey Manufacturing Co.