New York federal prosecutors admitted to telling a ‘flat lie’ about evidence in sanctions case

Federal prosecutors in New York admitted to telling a “flat lie” about evidence in order to win a case against a businessman accused of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, according to reports.

Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) attempted to block the release of evidence following a ruling last week by the U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan. Judge Nathan urged the Justice Department to open an internal probe into possible misconduct by prosecutors in the terrorism and international narcotics unit in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the SDNY.

Judge Nathan said the prosecutors made a “deliberate attempt to obscure” the truth and attempted to “bury” a key document that might have helped the defense.

Nathan’s push for a probe granted the Associated Press access to unsealed documents. At the request of the AP, dozens of private text messages, transcripts and correspondences were unsealed Monday and prosecutors were ordered to explain themselves.

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 found guilty by jurors and was convicted in March 2020, facing a maximum of 125 years in prison. However, prosecutors in the SDNY filed a motion to withdraw the conviction, citing prosecutorial misconduct, and all charges were dropped.

According to the AP, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jane Kim, wanted to introduce a bank record as evidence, but realized the document had not been shared with Sadr’s attorneys.

Kim suggested turning it over immediately to the defense, however, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Lake, recommended they “wait until tomorrow and bury it in some other documents.”

After Sadr’s lawyers discovered the document, they complained to prosecutors.

The prosecutors came up with an excuse, saying they believed the document had already been turned over in a previous batch of records.

The prosecutors’ supervisors, Emil Bove and Shawn Crowley, then got involved, according to court records, and in an exchange of text messages, Bove admitted the prosecutors’ excuse was a “flat lie.”

Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy

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