FBI Agent Sold Intel To Bangladeshi Political Operative In Murder-For-Hire Scheme

Tristyn Bloom Contributor
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Two Connecticut men pleaded guilty to bribing a FBI special agent as part of a scheme to threaten and possibly murder a Bangladeshi politician, the Justice Department announced Friday.

One of the men, Johannes Thaler, conspired with his childhood friend and now-former FBI Special Agent Robert Lustyik to solicit bribes from the Bangladeshi-born Rizve “Caesar” Ahmed. The two first approached Ahmed in September 2011, promising him confidential information about a political enemy in Bangladesh in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars in bribes.

The two allegedly demanded a one-time $40,000 “retainer” and an additional $30,000 monthly from Ahmed, and planned to pressure him to pay more. They exchanged a number of blunt texts about the situation, some of which the DOJ has released to the public, including the following exchange between Lustyik and Thaler: “we need to push [Ahmed] for this meeting and get that 40 gs quick. … I will talk us into getting the cash. … I will work my magic. … We r sooooooo close.” “I know. It’s all right there in front of us. Pretty soon we’ll be having lunch in our oceanfront restaurant. …”

Thaler himself had no counterintelligence experience, and was in fact a former ladies’ shoe salesman for Macy’s.

According to the DOJ, Ahmed wanted information that would help him “locate and harm his intended victim and others associated with the victim,” referring to the unnamed politician. “Ahmed also sought assistance in having criminal charges against a different Bangladeshi political figure dismissed.”

“The Government is in possession of evidence that as he was negotiating for the sale of that information, defendant Lustyik was aware that the person to whom he was attempting to sell that information may have had an interest in murdering the individual about whom Mr. Lustyik was 15 providing information,” reads a court document obtained by The Daily Caller.

“If this works out, I will be the hero to my party!!!” Ahmed texted Thaler in 2011.

A few months later Thaler and Lustyik caught wind of Ahmed seeking alternate information sources. Not wanting to lose their cash cow, they came up with a plan to keep him in line. “I want to kill [Ahmed],” texted Lustyik.”Let’s kick his ass. Show them. I hung my ass out the window n we got nothing? … Tell [Ahmed], I’ve got [the victim’s] number and I’m pissed. … I will put a wire on n get [Ahmed and his associates] to admit they want [a Bangladeshi political figure] offed n we sell it to the victim. … So bottom line. I need ten gs asap. We gotta squeeze C [short for Caesar, Ahmed’s nickname].”

Thaler and Ahmed were arrested in August 2013, by which point Lustyik had already been detained–on different conspiracy charges.

He’d been indicted nearly a year earlier, in October 2012, for staging an elaborate cover-up to shield a corrupt defense contractor from government investigation. In exchange for a share in the lucrative business, as well as at least $200,000 in cash, he made the contractor, Michael Taylor, look like “a valuable counterintelligence source,” according to the Army Times, “creating a dossier of staged interviews with former government agents and prosecutors.”

He even told a fellow FBI agent that Taylor had helped capture an important terrorist, and assured Taylor that “I will not stop in my attempt to sway this your way.”

“While active in the FBI, former Special Agent Lustyik used his position in an attempt to stave off the criminal investigation of a business partner with whom he was pursuing lucrative security and energy contracts,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer at the time. “He allegedly acted through a childhood friend to secure promises of cash, purported medical expenses and business proceeds in exchange for abusing his position as an FBI agent. The alleged conduct is outrageous, and we will do everything we can to ensure that justice is done in this case.”

According to court documents obtained by the Daily Caller, Lustyik allegedly advised Thaler on how to bring back hundreds of thousands of dollars from Lebanon, where Taylor was to hand off the cash. “In ur pants,” the special agent suggested. “Or wire it ? They won’t stop 2 white guys at customs wo a reason…or I meet u at customs at jfk n cred u in.”


Screengrab taken from a 2013 court document obtained by TheDC.

Screengrab taken from a 2013 court document obtained by TheDC.

Lustyik, 52, was just months from retirement when he agreed to this business arrangement. “I’ve made us all stinking rich!!!” he wrote in an email to a friend. “For 30 years I’ve sacrificed to get to this point.”

Now he’s finally pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice, according to the Journal News, a site that covers Lustyik’s hometown in the Lower Hudson Valley. Thaler is also suspected of involvement in this boondoggle, and has been charged with acting as a liaison between Lustyik and Taylor, though he, and Lustik, maintain his innocence.

“[Lustyik] strongly believes [Thaler] had no culpability and did nothing wrong,” said Lustyik’s lawyer, Ray Mansolillo, “and he was not going to implicate him to get a better deal with the government. He took full responsibility for his actions and won’t blame anyone else to save his own skin for a better deal as the government wanted him to do.”

The statement is likely a jab at Taylor, whose sentence was cut dramatically — from 25 years to 10 months — after entering a plea deal with the prosecution in December 2013. Since then Taylor’s become the star witness in the case against Lustyik.

“I think if you speak to most prosecutors they’re going to tell you that if you’re dealing with an investigation, any time you have allegations or indications of corruption on the part of the FBI or some other law enforcement agent, that guy becomes the main target,” former federal prosecutor William Aronwald told the Journal News.

As for the Bangladeshi scandal, Lustyik, who has a wife and two children, won’t face trial until November of this year. Ahmed and Thaler are scheduled for sentencing at the end of January, and each face maximum sentences of 35 years in prison.

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Tristyn Bloom