Federal prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan acknowledged in private messages that they lied to the defense team for an Iranian businessman who was convicted on charges that he violated U.S. sanctions, according to documents unsealed on Monday.
Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York (SDNY), which handles some of the government’s most significant criminal cases, tried to block the release of the damning messages, but they were unsealed in response to a request from the Associated Press.
According to the AP, the newly disclosed records showed prosecutors discussing turning over records to the defense team for Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad, who was charged in 2018 with money laundering, bank fraud, and violating U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran by funneling $115 million through Venezuelan front companies.
Sadr was convicted in March 2020, but prosecutors in SDNY soon filed a motion to withdraw the conviction, citing prosecutorial misconduct. (RELATED: Opinion: Don’t Get Fooled Again — SDNY Has As Much On Trump As Mueller Did)
According to the Associated Press, assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Kim suggested giving the record to the defense, according to the AP.
Stephanie Lake, another assistant U.S. attorney, proposed a different strategy.
“Wait until tomorrow and bury it in some other documents,” she wrote, according to the AP.
After Sadr’s lawyers discovered the document, prosecutors fabricated the excuse that they believed they had already turned it over in a previous batch of records.
Emily Bove, who supervised the trial attorneys, wrote in a message that the original claim was a “flat lie,” the AP reported.
Bove also wrote to Shawn Crowley, an attorney on the trial team, that the lawyers had “done some pretty aggressive stuff here over the last few days.”
“Yeah we lied in that letter,” Crowley wrote in a message, according to the Associated Press.
District Court Judge Alison J. Nathan, who presided over Sadr’s trial, blasted the U.S. attorney’s office in September, saying that officials had “failed to unequivocally condemn these prosecutors’ improper actions and communications.”
Geoffrey Berman was the U.S. attorney for SDNY through the duration of the Sadr case. President Donald Trump fired him in June 2020 in an unrelated matter.
SDNY has historically handled some of the government’s highest-profile terrorism and financial crimes cases. It also led investigations into several Trump associates, including Michael Cohen and Steve Bannon.
Prosecutors at SDNY have also reportedly investigated Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who oversaw the same office in the 1980s, over his foreign business dealings.
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