Richard Convertino is a former federal prosecutor in Detroit, Michigan. Convertino was the lead Assistant U.S. Attorney in the "Detroit Sleeper Cell" prosecutions of Karim Koubriti and Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi. However, the U.S. Department of Justice subsequently removed Convertino from his position and asked courts to dismiss those convictions, on the grounds that Convertino had failed to disclose evidence to which the defense was entitled.
Federal charges were laid in the Detroit Sleeper Cell in September 2001, very shortly following the attacks of September 11, 2001. DOJ's prosecution in U.S. v. Koubriti alleged that an apparent holiday video five men made while visiting Disneyland was really a clandestine reconnaissance video, which would allow bomb experts to plan where to plant bombs. As lead prosecutor in the Koubriti case, Convertino argued that the five men were not the Westernized, secular Muslims they seemed. The government argued that they were "Takfiris"—radical jihadists who had a dispensation to drink alcohol, use narcotics and avoid praying, in order to blend in to western societies, while secretly plotting clandestine attacks. Doubt was cast on the prosecution's case in U.S. v. Koubriti when it was alleged that the star witness, a member of the group who turned on the others, was a known con artist. Convertino had not disclosed this and other potentially exculpatory evidence to the defense.
On March 29, 2006, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced criminal indictments for obstruction of justice against Convertino and Harry Raymond Smith, former security official assigned to the US Embassy in Amman, Jordan, who served as a government witness in U.S. v. Koubriti case.
Convertino has alleged that the DOJ disclosed other information to the news media that is protected by the Privacy Act in order to smear or discredit Convertino for his whistleblowing disclosures to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.
Prosecuted & Acquitted
Richard Convertino was charged with conspiracy to conceal possibly exculpatory evidence from the defense and lying to a Federal judge. Harry Smith III, formerly a U.S. Department of State investigator who had testified in the terrorism case prosecuted by Richard Convertino, was allegedly part of the conspiracy. Not turning the evidence over to the defense had led, at the government's request, to the court dismissal of the terrorism case prior to the charging of the case's prosecutor for the conspiracy. The jury acquitted the prosecutor and the investigator on October 31, 2007.
In the Media
- Detroit 'Sleeper Cell' Prosecutor Faces Probe, washingtonpost.com, November 20, 2005
- U.S. Asks For Dismissal Of Terrorism Convictions - New York Times
- USA v. Karim Kobrouti et al., Findlaw
- The article requested can not be found! Please refresh your browser or go back. (C4,20060329,NEWS11,60329007,AR)[dead link]
- Richard Convertino v. Department of Justice
- (accessed June 1, 2008) toledoblade.com - Former prosecutor in Detroit terror trial acquitted
- Schmitt, Ben (March 23, 2002). "Martin's paper trail turns into evidence". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on March 11, 2005. Retrieved September 25, 2013.