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Three Indicted in FBI Bribery Scheme

SALT LAKE CITY (CN) - A Massachusetts man pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he acted as middleman between a bribe-taking FBI agent and a defense contractor.

Robert Lustyik Jr., 50, of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., performed counterintelligence work for the bureau in nearby White Plains until September.

He was charged Friday along with Michael Taylor, 51, the principal of Boston-based American International Security Corporation; and Johannes Thaler, 49, on one count of conspiracy, eight counts of honest services wire fraud, one count of obstructing justice and one count of obstructing an agency proceeding.

Prosecutors say Lustyik, Taylor and Thaler had been working since June 2011 to push contracts for security services, electric power and energy development in the Middle East and Africa.

Taylor, of Harvard, Mass., allegedly learned in September 2011 that he was the subject of a federal criminal investigation, launched a year earlier in Utah, concerning a Defense Department contract.

Prosecutors say Taylor offered Lustyik $200,000 in cash and a share in the proceeds of several anticipated contracts, worth millions of dollars, for the agent's promise to impair and impede the investigation.

Thaler, Lustyik's childhood friend who lives in New Fairfield, Conn., allegedly passed information and payments between the pair.

Taylor and Thayer allegedly used an email "dead drop" to avoid leaving a record of their interactions, and they used the names of football teams and nicknames as part of their coded communications.

The indictment adds that Lustyik designated Taylor as an FBI confidential source, texted and called investigators and prosecutors to dissuade them from charging Taylor, and attempted to interview potential witnesses and targets in the Utah investigation.

Lustyik also assured Taylor that he would not stop in his "attempt to sway this your way," according to the indictment.

Taylor and Lustyik were previously arrested on prior criminal complaints in the case. Taylor was detained pending trial, and Lustyik received a $2 million bond. U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead took Thaler's not-guilty plea Monday.

There is a status conference set for Dec. 4, 2012, at 10 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Warner.

If convicted, each man faces five years in prison on the conspiracy charge, 20 years on each of the wire fraud charges, 10 years on the obstruction of justice charge and five years on the obstruction of an agency proceeding charge. Each charge also carries a maximum $250,000 fine.

The government is represented by Carlos Esqueda.

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