December 23, 2014, 3:53 PM Daily News NY
A former FBI special agent pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy and bribery charges and now faces as much as 17 years in federal prison.
The plea from Robert Lustyik, 52, of Sleepy Hollow came two months after his codefendents also admitted they were guilty.
Prosecutors had accused the three of conspiring to trade information about a pending federal investigation into a Bangladeshi political figure in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars.
Lustyik and a friend, Johannes Thaler, 51, of Connecticut, were promised tens of thousands of dollars by Rizve Ahmed, 35, of Danbury in exchange for confidential FBI documents that Ahmed planned to use to harm a political rival in Bangladesh.
Lustyik had access to the documents — including a Suspicious Activity Report — by virtue of his position on the counterintelligence squad operating out of the FBI’s White Plains office.
From mid-2011 to the spring of 2012, Lustyik and Thaler exchanged text messages on how to pressure Ahmed for the money, prosecutors said.
Thaler, at one point, texted Lustyik, “It’s all right there in front of us. Pretty soon we’ll be having lunch in our oceanfront restaurant . . . “
In late January 2012, after learning that Ahmed was thinking of using another source to get the information, an angry Lustyik texted Thaler:
“I want to kill [AHMED]. . . I hung my a– out the window n we got nothing? . . .
Tell [AHMED], I’ve got [THE RIVAL’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 rival).”
Lustyik added: “So bottom line. I need ten gs asap. We gotta squeeze C.”
When they were arrested in August, prosecutors said Lustyik and Thaler had accepted at least $1,000 from Ahmed and plans to get monthly cash bribes from him for information about the rival and for help getting criminal charges dropped against another Bangladeshi figure.
More details emerged in mid-October when Thaler and Ahmed pleaded guilty and admitted that as part of their scheme, Ahmed would pay a $40,000 retainer and $30,000 a month for all the information Thaler and Lustyik had on Ahmed’s political rival and for help in setting him up.
Lustyik who pleaded guilty to all five conspiracy, soliciting and bribery charges faces a jail term of 158 to 210 months when he is sentenced April 30. Free on a $1.5 million bond since June, he is to report to federal prison Feb. 15.
“Lustyik betrayed our system of justice: he breached not only the law, but also his sworn oath, and the great trust and confidence placed in him by citizens and colleagues. For his criminal conduct, he now faces, as he must serious, commensurate penalties,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
Lustyik and Thaler also pleaded guilty earlier this month to federal charges in Utah where they conspired to help a crooked federal defense contractor circumvent an investigation for a $200,000 bribe and other gratuities.
“I’ve made us all stinking rich!!!” Lustyik wrote to Thaler in a text in that case.
Thaler and Ahmed are due to be sentenced Jan. 23.