Tag: Viktor Bout

U.S. Finally Swaps Viktor Bout for Brittany Griner

Brittany Griner is back in the U.S. and Viktor Bout is back home in Russia, 14 years after the U.S. engineered his arrest in Thailand and extradition to the U.S. as part of a sting operation in which DEA informants posed as FARC rebels.

Mr. Bout was sentenced to 25 years in jail in a federal court in Manhattan in 2012, protesting his innocence to the end. Prior to that he spent around two years in detention in Bangkok pending extradition to the U.S., and then a further two years in detention in America before he was convicted.

Even former Judge Shira Scheindlin, who sentenced
Bout, said last year Bout's sentence was excessive:

(12 comments, 705 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Viktor Bout: 90 days in Solitary for Making Kombucha in Cell

Russian arms merchant Viktor Bout is serving his 25 year sentence at Marion, IL. He's in the highly restrictive Communications Management Unit. Having already lost his appeal, he sought a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. The Court denied it on October 26. (Case 08-cr-00365-SAS, SDNY, Document 124.)

His lawyer says he has been put in the hole for 90 days for making alcohol in his cell -- but it wasn't alcohol, it was Kombucha (a probiotic digestive aid drink.) He also lost 40 days of good time.

In other Bout news, the documentary The Notorious Mr. Bout, which the film's makers say is "the ultimate rags-to-riches-to-prison memoir" is now available online, and through iTunes and Amazon. It contradicts his image as the Merchant of Death as portrayed by Nicolas Cage in the earlier film "Lord of War." [More....]

(4 comments, 504 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

U.S. Asks Russia to Detain Snowden

The U.S. has asked Russia to detain Edward Snowden and send him back to the U.S. This is rich (as in disingenuous):

"We now understand Mr. Snowden is on Russian soil. Given our intensified cooperation after the Boston marathon bombings and our history of working with Russia on law enforcement matters -- including returning numerous high level criminals back to Russia at the request of the Russian government -- we expect the Russian Government to look at all options available to expel Mr. Snowden back to the U.S. to face justice for the crimes with which he is charged."

Really? Let's take a look at the Bureau of Prisons website today:[More...]

(163 comments, 1103 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Viktor Bout Sentenced to 25 Years, Judge Rejects Life Sentence

Bump and Update: The Judge rejected the Government's request for a life sentence, and sentenced Viktor Bout to 25 years, the minimum term possible given the mandatory sentence requirement of the statute. Mr. Bout did address the judge:

"Your honor, I am not guilty...."I never intended to kill anyone. I never intended to sell arms to anyone. God knows this truth."
According to the Judge,
... Mr. Bout simply took advantage of the opportunity presented to him, rather than actively looking to commit a crime that could be prosecuted in U.S. courts. She also said the federal sentencing guidelines in the case called for too harsh a sentence.

Presumably, he will get credit for his jail time since March, 2008 in Thailand, since he was only being held on our extradition request. He will get credit for the time in custody since he got to the U.S. That would make the sentence 21 years, of which he will have to serve 85% or 17.8 years, if he doesn't win his appeals and Congress doesn't increase good time while he's serving the sentence. He'd be 66 when he gets out. The Judge made the right call in my view by refusing to sentence him to life or 30 years. [More...]

(14 comments, 2612 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Federal Judge Rules Viktor Bout's Solitary Confinement is Unconstitutional

Viktor Bout, convicted of arms trafficking and awaiting sentencing in New York, has been ordered to be moved out of solitary confinement. A federal judge today ruled such treatment unconstitutional.

Although I recognize that courts are loathe to interfere with questions of prison administration, an area in which the BOP is best suited to make decisions, I cannot shirk my duty under the Constitution and Turner to ensure that Bout's confinement is not arbitrarily and excessively harsh.


(2 comments, 666 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Viktor Bout Jury Forewoman Saw "Lord of War"

The New York Times had an interview with the jury forewoman in the Viktor Bout trial earlier this week. Viktor Bout's wife, Alla Bout, who attended all of the trial except for the verdict return, has told a Russian newspaper that Bout's lawyers will challenge the verdict based on the interview. The article says "over the last few weeks" she has become something of an expert on Viktor Bout. It also says:

Another thing also became obvious: her knowledge of Mr. Bout was more expansive than she had realized. I had seen that terrible Nicolas Cage movie,” she said, a reference to the film “Lord of War,” which is believed to have been inspired by Mr. Bout, “and I had no idea it was about this guy.”

I wonder when exactly she realized this. Was it while the trial was going on or after the verdict was rendered? From the "past few weeks" reference, it could have been either. [More...]

(1 comment, 996 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Jury Finds Viktor Bout Guilty

The jury has returned a guilty verdict in the case of Russian businessman Viktor Bout.

A jury reached the verdict in the case against Viktor Bout after deliberating since Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan. He was convicted of conspiracy to kill Americans and US officials, deliver anti-aircraft missiles and aid a terrorist organization.

He will be sentenced in February and faces up to life in prison. The New York Times reports on the verdict here.

Here's the verdict form the jury had to complete. My recent lengthy post on the trial is here. All of our coverage is available here.

Permalink :: Comments

Viktor Bout Fate Now in the Hands of the Jury

The jury in the Viktor Bout case is deliberating (background here.) Here's a good summary of the closing arguments.

What happens if Bout is acquitted? The U.S. may have a backup plan. There's another pending indictment filed in February, 2010 pending against him and his former business associate Richard Chichakli in New York, for money laundering, wire fraud and conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act ("IEEPA") by attempting to purchase two airplanes in the U.S. after the U.N. and OFAC imposed blocking sanctions. The Indictment is here. [More....]

(400 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Jury to Begin Deliberations in Victor Bout Case

The prosecution and defense gave their closing arguments Monday in the trial of Russian businessman Viktor Bout, accused of agreeing with pretend FARC members to sell weapons to be used against the U.S. in Colombia. The elaborate DEA sting began in Curacao, continued in Denmark, Russia, Romania and Moscow, and culminated in Thailand. The heart of the defense argument:

Mr. Dayan’s core argument was that Mr. Bout had humored the supposed FARC representatives’ interest in weapons, and even encouraged it, in an attempt to sell two cargo planes that he intended to persuade the men were necessary for the delivery of the weapons. Mr. Dayan emphasized that Mr. Bout never actually believed the men were members of FARC and said his client was “acting out” throughout their dealings; a weapons deal, Mr. Dayan said, was never agreed upon, nor did Mr. Bout ever plan on delivering any military equipment.

Mr. Dayan said that by the time of his arrest, Mr. Bout had made the transition from a legal arms-dealing trade to other business opportunities, like real estate, and the defense lawyer seemed to blame the fiasco on Mr. Smulian, Mr. Bout’s former associate. While Mr. Bout fought extradition in Thai courts after his arrest, Mr. Smulian voluntarily traveled to the United States and has cooperated with prosecutors for three and a half years.

[ More...]

(3668 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Russia Promises Continued Support for Viktor Bout and Yaroshenko

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov today promised Russia will continue to support the legal efforts of Viktor Bout and pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, both of whom were ensnared in U.S. DEA stings abroad and brought to the U.S. for prosecution. Bout is on trial now in New York for terror related charges arising from an alleged arms trafficking deal. Yaroshenko was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in an African drug sting, and is appealing.

Our citizens may be certain that our country will not leave them in an unjust situation…These cases have attracted wide publicity,” Lavrov said in a radio interview.

“We are actively supporting both [Bout and Yaroshenko], as well as other Russian citizens who find themselves in similar situations…This support includes hiring experienced lawyers if necessary,” the minister said.

Lavrov also blasted the U.S. for the way it handled the cases: [More...]

(1 comment, 629 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

DEA Informant Testifies in Viktor Bout Trial

Earlier, it was reported that the DEA informant in the Viktor Bout case was paid $1.5 million. Scratch that, it was $8 million and rising. Former Guatemalan soldier and drug dealer turned DEA informant, Carlos Sagastume, testified yesterday in the trial of accused arms dealer Viktor Bout.

Sagastume testified his supplier in Guatemala got busted and Mexican police took him to Mexico, where he was freed after paying a $60,000 "ransom." He then contacted the U.S. embassy offering to be an informant for the DEA. The DEA brought him to the U.S. in 1998 and he's been working as a paid informant for them ever since. He's made over 150 cases and says it's the best paying employment he's ever had.

He testified that he has been paid $1.6 million by the DEA and $7.5 million by the State Department. He said he raked in $250,000 from the Bout case alone, and hopes to earn more money from the case.


(6 comments, 737 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Viktor Bout DEA Informants Paid Close to $1 Million

Testimony began today in the trial of Viktor Bout (background here.)

The first government witness today was William Brown, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent who managed the investigation. The three undercover sources used to make contact with Bout and his associates and pretend to be FARC members were paid almost $1 million for their work on the case, he testified.

Bout, like other recent defendants in New York's Southern District kidnapped from foreign countries and brought to the U.S. for trial, lost his motion to dismiss the case based on manufactured jurisdiction. The judge granted his motion to suppress his statements to the DEA following his arrest in Thailand. [More...]

(3 comments, 455 words in story) There's More :: Permalink :: Comments

Next 12 >>