On May 29, 2012, Florida Federal Judge Jose E. Martinez granted a Government Motion to reduce the sentence of Robert Antoine, the former director of international relations for Telecommunications D’Haiti S.A.M. ("Haiti Teleco"), the Haitian state-owned telecommunications company, from 48 months to 18 months, based on his cooperation with the Government’s FCPA investigation into the Haiti Teleco matter. The Government has had its share of difficulties in FCPA cases recently (as discussed here), but this case reflects what may happen when things go well in an FCPA prosecution. The Court papers discuss the cooperation provided by Mr. Antoine both before his plea agreement and during the two trials involving three other defendants.
In a series of cases, the Government has alleged that the two companies based in Miami paid bribes in connection with a series of contracts with Haiti Teleco, the sole provider of land line telephone service in Haiti, that allowed the customers to place telephone calls to Haiti. Mr. Antoine (as the former director of international relations for Haiti Teleco) could not be charged with violating the FCPA (see, e.g., U.S. v. Blondek, 741 F. Supp. 116, 120 (N.D. Tex. 1990), aff’d sub. nom., U.S. v. Castle, 925 F.2d 831 (5th Cir. 1991)), but instead, the Government alleged the funds he received were laundered and were the proceeds of violations of the FCPA and Haitian bribery law, as well as the U.S. wire fraud statute. As a result, in March 2010, he pled guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering, admitting that between May 2001 to April 2003 he accepted bribes from U.S. telecommunications companies and he laundered those through intermediary companies. In June 2010, he was sentenced to 48 months in prison.
Two other defendants in that matter, Joel Esquenazi and Carlos Rodriguez, former executives of Terra Telecommunications Corporation, were convicted by a Florida jury for their roles in a conspiracy to violate the FCPA and commit money laundering on August 5, 2011, as discussed here. The two U.S.-based defendants received lengthy sentences when, on October 25, 2011, Mr. Rodriguez was sentenced to seven years in prison and Mr. Esquenazi received a 15-year sentence, which the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida described as "the longest sentence ever imposed in a case involving the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act."
Mr. Antoine’s successor, Jean Rene Duperval, elected to defend himself against the charges and on March 12, 2012, was convicted on two counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 19 counts of money laundering related to the FCPA scheme (with the jury only taking three hours to convict him). On May 21, 2012, he was sentenced to nine years in prison.
At the time he pled guilty, Mr. Antoine entered into a Plea Agreement, in which he agreed to a sentencing guideline calculation of 27 (which could have resulted in a prison term of more than seven years). The Plea Agreement acknowledged that he had assisted the Government by entering into an early plea. Mr. Antoine apparently continued to provide cooperation, including testifying in the trials against Messrs. Esquenazi, Rodriguez and Duperval.
As a result, on April 12, 2012, the Government filed a Motion to reduce his sentence under Rule 35 by 50% (from 48 months to 24 months) for his "substantial assistance to law enforcement." The Government stated that it would provide details of that assistance at the hearing on the motion. On April 13, 2012, the Court directed Mr. Antoine to file a response to the Government’s Motion. He filed that response on April 26, 2012 and set forth certain information regarding his efforts to cooperate with the Government:
• Mr. Antoine indentified two lengthy debriefing meetings which he had with Government prior to signing the Plea Agreement;
• after his plea and before the Esquenazi trial, he met with the Government over a dozen times, often without counsel;
• Mr. Antoine met with the Government another five times prior to the trial of Mr. Duperval; and
• Mr. Antoine testified in both trials (the one against Messrs. Esquenazi and Rodriguez and the one against Mr. Duperval).
Mr. Antoine requested that his sentence be reduced from 48 months to 16 months.
Following a hearing on May 29, 2012, Judge Martinez granted Government’s Motion to reduce the sentence, but selected a length that differed from the Government’s request of 24 months and Mr. Antoine’s request of 16 months. Instead, he entered an Amended Judgment reducing the sentence to 18 months.