Saturday, August 26, 2006
State Department officer Michael O'Keefe has been for accepting jewelry and trips to Las Vegas and New York for himself and two "exotic dancers" from Sunil Agrawal to facilitate the issuance of visas to workers at Agrawal's business, STS Jewels (website here). O'Keefe and Agrawal are both charged with violating Sec. 201(b), the bribery provision that covers federal employees, and with conspiracy. O'Keefe was the Deputy Nonimmigrant Visa Chief in the U.S. Embassy in Toronto, and he authorized the issuance of 21 work visas for employees of STS Jewels. The indictment (here) lists four pieces of jewelry provided to O'Keefe for which the government seeks forfeiture, and the two trips included accommodations and car service along with expensive meals.
As if the exotic dancers weren't enough, the indictment recounts a number of e-mails between O'Keefe and Agrawal describing how O'Keefe would short-circuit the visa review process. Others are more person, so that In one, O'Keefe complains about having to pay Canadian customs -- over $250 -- on a ring that Agrawal sent to him, while another whines that the gift basket Agrawal said was sent to the New York hotel room for O'Keefe and his two "friends" never arrived. Gee, it's hard to accept bribes and gratuities when you have to pay taxes on them and those wonderful fruit baskets never even arrive for the exotic dancers! The case shows once again that people will write things in e-mails that they would never repeat if they thought the government were listening. E-mail lasts forever, unlike water-cooler conversations, and can lead to jail. (ph)