On September 27, 2013, it was announced that two former U.S. soldiers and one former German soldier were arrested on charges related to a conspiracy to kill. On the same day, the indictment setting forth the alleged conspiracy was unsealed and published on the website for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Two other persons were charged in the indictment, also former soldiers. They were arrested on September 25, 2013, and are in the process of being extradited from Estonia to the United States.

The indictment goes into significant detail surrounding an alleged conspiracy between the former soldiers and their alleged plot kill an agent of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the agent’s associate. The indictment focuses on the activities of the supposed leader of the group, Joseph Hunter.

Hunter served in the U.S. Army until 2004, at which point the Government alleges he turned to contract killing (but fails to identify the evidence that leads them to this conclusion). The indictment depicts Hunter as the one orchestrating the activities of four other individuals, all of which are former soldiers. Dennis Gogel, Slawomir Soborski, and Michael Filter served for various European countries, whereas Timothy Vamvakias served in the U.S. army.

The evidence against Hunter and the others was obtained from DEA confidential sources. In fact, it would appear that all of the evidence was obtained through three confidential sources, as outlined through the course of the events described in the indictment. Further, the the relevant time period occurs from the time confidential sources first met with Hunter until the issuance of the indictment. In essence, the circumstances surrounding the charges against Hunter and the others is solely based upon their alleged interactions with confidential informants.

The counts contained in the indictment are conspiracy-based crimes. To prove a conspiracy, the Government only needs to prove the existence of an agreement made with the intent to commit an unlawful act, and that at least one step was taken in furtherance of the agreement. In other words, the object of the conspiracy, for example the assassination of a DEA agent and his associate, does not need to be completed in order for the Government to make its case.

The Government has more or less set up a strong case against Hunter and the other former soldiers solely based upon the intervention of confidential informants. Significantly, the actions taken by the confidential informants are within legal limits and do not implicate any form of entrapment, despite the fact that they arranged all meeting with the defendants, provided them with instructions, and facilitated all steps taken by the defendants.

The defendants now face conspiracy to violate the following statutes: 21 U.S.C. §§ 963, 959(c); 18 U.S.C. §§ 924(o), 1114, 1117, 1512(k), (h) and (a)(1)(C), and  3238.

The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in Federal Criminal Defense matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or ferrari@ferrariassociatespc.com.

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