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Azusa firm, two execs convicted of Mexican bribery scheme

Lindsey Manufacturing, its president and vice president are found guilty of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The firm allegedly paid to get business with a Mexico-owned power company.

May 11, 2011|By Stuart Pfeifer, Los Angeles Times

An Azusa company that produces electricity transmission equipment and two of its executives have been convicted of participating in a scheme to bribe an official at Mexico's nationalized power company.

A federal jury in Los Angeles on Tuesday convicted Lindsey Manufacturing Co., its president, Keith Lindsey, and vice president, Steve K. Lee, of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits paying bribes to foreign government officials.

Lindsey, 66, of La CaƱada Flintridge and Lee, 60, of Diamond Bar were convicted of one count of conspiracy and five counts of violating the foreign corruption act.

Prosecutors alleged that the company hired a salesman in Mexico to bribe an official with the Comision Federal de Electricidad in order to secure business from the state-owned power company.

Lindsey Manufacturing sold more than $19 million of equipment to CFE in seven years after it hired a Mexican national, Enrique Aguilar, to represent the firm in Mexico, prosecutors said. In exchange, Lindsey Manufacturing paid about $5.9 million in commissions to Aguilar.

Aguilar used part of the commission to buy the power company official a $297,500 Ferrari, a $1.8-million yacht and to pay more than $170,000 of his credit card bills, prosecutors alleged.

Lindsey Manufacturing makes emergency power transmission towers that can be used temporarily in the event of a natural disaster.

"Bribery is not a victimless crime," said Andre Birotte Jr., the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles. "Not only does it damage citizens' confidence in their own government, it also damages the integrity of the global marketplace."

Defense attorneys had argued at trial that the Lindsey officials did not know that Aguilar was using his sales commissions to pay bribes.

Jurors deliberated one day before reaching the verdicts.

"In my view, the verdicts are against the weight of the evidence," said Lindsey's attorney, Jan Handzlik.

"We are very disappointed by the jury's verdict and continue to believe in our clients' innocence."

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 16. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison.

U.S. prosecutors have also charged Aguilar, who lives in Cuernavaca, Mexico, with violating the bribery act. He has not been arrested.

His wife, Angela Maria Gomez Aguilar, was also convicted Tuesday on one count of money laundering. She is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 12.

stuart.pfeifer@latimes.com

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