The U.S. government’s approach to enforcing the restrictions and requirements found in the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”) has evolved over the statute’s 81-year history. You can find a narrative historical overview of FARA’s enforcement history in the Department of Justice Criminal Resource Manual, but here are a few relevant facts on FARA enforcement over the years:
- The first-ever FARA case was brought in 1939 against three Soviet propagandists.
- During the World War II era, 19 separate criminal cases were brought against 61 individuals and organizations, with the results being 36 parties convicted, 9 parties acquitted, 3 parties whose juries were not able to reach a verdict, and 13 parties whose charges were dropped.
- From 1946 to the time of landmark FARA amendments in 1966, 12 separate criminal cases were brought against 27 organizations and individuals, with the results being 13 convictions, 1 party acquitted, 11 parties whose charges were dropped, 1 party whose motion to dismiss was granted by a court, and 1 party who fled and was never extradited.
- From 1967 to 1987, which was a period when the Department of Justice focused more intently on bringing civil actions to enforce FARA requirements, only two criminal cases were pursued. One case was dismissed because a court ruled that it was barred by the statute of limitations. FARA charges in the other cases were dropped as part of a plea bargain.
- From 1988 to 2020, the Department of Justice brought 13 criminal FARA cases against 14 organizations and individuals that have reached resolutions to date, with the results being 13 parties convicted (1 of which had his conviction overturned) and 1 party having FARA charges dropped.
This historical information and perspective is more important today than ever, as the Department of Justice now appears to be pivoting toward an aggressive enforcement posture after announcing that it would restructure its FARA Registration Unit and shift “from treating FARA as an administrative obligation and regulatory obligation to one that is increasingly an enforcement priority.”
A FARA violation is criminal only if it is “willful.” All other FARA violations may be punished only through a civil enforcement action. (Summaries of prior FARA civil enforcement efforts are available here.) Generally, a “willful” violation carries a penalty for the violator of up to five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Certain statutorily specified “willful” violations, though, carry a lesser potential penalty for the violator of up to six months in prison and up to a $5,000 fine. FARA criminal prosecutions must be approved by the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division or higher authority under the United States Attorney’s Manual, and in practice are also approved by the appropriate United States Attorney’s office.
For your reference, provided below are summaries of each of the 45 FARA criminal enforcement cases that have reached resolution over the statue’s history. They are presented in reverse chronological order. Please note that some cases pursued under FARA’s “sister provision” at 18 U.S.C. § 951, which pertains to certain foreign-government agents, are often misidentified or mistakenly reported as being “FARA cases.”
Summaries of Resolved Criminal Cases (1988-2023)
Prakazrel “Praz” Michel (2023)—On April 26, 2023, Prakazrel “Praz” Michel was found guilty of conspiring to make and conceal foreign contributions and failing to register as an agent of China, among other charges related to conspiracy and witness tampering. While a sentencing date has not yet been set, Michel faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Michel, age 50, conspired with Jho Low, a Malaysian billionaire accused of stealing $4 billion from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, to funnel millions of dollars into the 2012 presidential election through both direct contributions and straw donors. Michel, directly and through those straw donors, contributed Low’s money to a presidential joint fundraising committee and an independent expenditure committee, which caused both committees to submit false reports to the FEC incorrectly identifying the source of the contributions. Michel also conspired with Low to engage in undisclosed lobbying campaigns at the direction of Low and the Vice Minister of Public Security for the People’s Republic of China to encourage the Trump administration to drop an embezzlement investigation and forfeiture proceedings involving Low and to send a Chinese dissident back to China. Michel has indicated he will appeal the decision.
- Elliott Broidy (2020)—Mr. Broidy, a former fundraiser for President Trump, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate FARA. He accepted $9 million from Malaysian financier Jho Low, a fugitive who is accused by the U.S. of engineering the 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB fraud. Mr. Broidy’s efforts on behalf of Low involved attempts to soften the Trump administration’s stance on the 1MDB fraud, including pushing the White House Chief of Staff for a golf game between the President and the Malaysian Prime Minister, who is also under investigation for his role in the embezzlement. Mr. Broidy was scheduled to be sentenced but received a full pardon from President Donald Trump in January 2021.
- Nickie Mali Lum Davis (2020)—Ms. Lum Davis, a Hawaii businesswoman, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting a violation of FARA. The Malaysian Government paid Ms. Lum Davis and her coconspirators to lobby U.S. officials including the President and the Attorney General on Malaysia’s behalf. Ms. Lum Davis unsuccessfully tried to convince the Trump Administration to drop civil proceedings and a criminal investigation pending against 1Malaysia Development Berhad, a Malaysian Government-owned company accused of embezzling billions of dollars. She also took payments from a foreign national and a Minister of the People’s Republic of China. In exchange for these payments, Ms. Lum Davis attempted to arrange meetings for the Chinese Minister with high-ranking U.S. officials to obtain the return of a Chinese political dissident currently living in the U.S. Ultimately, Ms. Lum Davis accepted at least $3 million for her lobbying work. Her plea included an agreement to forfeit that money.
- Imaad Zuberi (2019)—Mr. Zuberi, a venture capitalist and frequent political fundraiser, pleaded guilty to a willful violation of FARA and other federal laws. Zuberi was acting as an agent of the Sri Lankan government, a foreign principal, by personally engaging in lobbying and public relations activities targeting U.S. officials and staff at the direction and control of Sri Lanka. The goal, according to the indictment, was to rehabilitate Sri Lanka’s image in the United States and focused on “modifying U.S. policies, particularly through the issuance of Congressional resolutions, and improving public perception relating to Sri Lanka’s alleged prosecution of its minority Tamil population.” Among the activities Zuberi is alleged to have engaged in was solicitation of members of Congress to accept all-expenses-paid trips to Sri Lanka, authoring emails and writing proposals for Sri Lanka setting forth the strategy of the influence campaign, and personally introducing members of a Sri Lanka delegation to members of Congress. After an investigation was initiated by the Justice Department, Zuberi filed a FARA registration that nevertheless contained material false statements and omitted material facts. Mr. Zuberi was sentenced to 12 years in prison for violating FARA and committing other crimes.
- Bijan Rafiekian (2019)—Mr. Rafeikian, a business partner of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, was convicted by a jury of conspiring to file a materially false statement under FARA and of violating a statute that is similar to FARA at 18 U.S.C. § 951. Mr. Rafeikian’s consulting firm was hired in 2016 to advocate for the extradition of Turkish dissident cleric Fethullah Gulen. Prosecutors accused Rafiekian, who was also part of President Trump’s transition team, of concealing Turkish government officials’ involvement in the lobbying campaign on behalf of Turkish President Erdogan to expel Gulen from the United States. The prosecution alleged that high-level Turkish officials approved the budget for the project and that the Turkish officials were updated regularly by an intermediary. Mr. Rafeikian’s consultancy submitted a retroactive FARA registration, that prosecutors argued was false because it listed a Dutch company as its only “foreign principal” and indicated that the Dutch company was not supervised by a foreign government or other foreign principal. Mr. Rafeikian’s conviction was initially overturned by a federal judge because the prosecution “failed to offer substantial evidence from which any rational juror could find beyond a reasonable doubt” but the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately upheld the jury conviction. Mr. Flynn separately pleaded guilty to making material false statements in an interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but was ultimately pardoned by President Donald Trump.
- Samuel Patten (2018)—Mr. Patten was a partner in a consultancy that performed political consulting services in Ukraine and in the United States. The consultancy received over $1,000,000 from the Opposition Bloc and other Ukrainian interests. Mr. Patten acknowledged setting up and drafting talking points for meetings between foreign individuals and Members of Congress, as well as drafting op-ed articles on behalf of a Ukrainian oligarch targeted at U.S. press. The plea documentation made note that Mr. Patten knew he was required to register under FARA because he did so for another client and because he had failed to register after initially asked the Ukrainian oligarch whether the representation should be registered under FARA. Mr. Patten was sentenced to three years of probation, 500 hours of community service, and a fine of $5,000.
- Richard Gates (2018)—Mr. Gates, a U.S. national, pleaded guilty in 2018 to making false statements to the FBI and to a charge of conspiracy against the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, which included a conspiracy to willfully violate FARA and make false statements on FARA filings. Mr. Gates was a colleague of Paul Manafort, whose case is described below. Mr. Gates did not initially register under FARA for his work within the United States as an agent of the Ukrainian Government and the Ukrainian Party of Regions, which was associated with former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych. He and his public relations firm did, however, file a late registration in 2017 at the direction of the Department of Justice’s FARA Registration Unit. Mr. Gates was sentenced to 45 days in jail and three years of probation, in recognition of his role as a cooperating witness in other cases.
- Paul Manafort (2018)—Mr. Manafort, a U.S. national, pleaded guilty in 2018 to a charge of conspiracy against the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, which included a conspiracy to willfully violate FARA, make false statements on FARA filings, and launder money in connection with a FARA violation. He received a five-year sentence associated with this conspiracy plea, along with additional sentences for other criminal violations. Mr. Manafort did not initially register under FARA for his work within the United States as an agent of the Ukrainian Government and the Ukrainian Party of Regions, which was associated with former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych. Mr. Manafort and his public relations firm did, however, file a late registration in 2017 at the direction of the Department of Justice’s FARA Registration Unit before charges were ultimately brought against Mr. Manafort and his associates involved in the Ukraine-related activity. Mr. Manafort was pardoned by President Donald Trump.
- Nisar Chaudhry (2018)—Mr. Chaudhry, a Pakistani national and U.S. permanent resident, pleaded guilty in 2018 for willfully failing to file a FARA registration statement. He represented himself to be the President of the “Pakistan American League,” which was an unincorporated entity of his own creation that was ostensibly engaged in activities “solely educational in nature and executed for the benign purpose of encouraging better relations between the United States and Pakistan.” According to his plea, Mr. Chauhdry engaged in “political activities” as an agent of the Pakistan Government from 2012 to 2018 by organizing roundtable discussions with U.S. officials and press conferences with American press outlets for visiting Pakistani government officials, obtaining in-depth information about U.S. policies toward Pakistan, and neutralizing unfavorable views of Pakistan held by U.S. persons. Mr. Chaudhry routinely interacted with the Pakistan Government and its U.S. Embassy, with the “consideration” for his activities taking the form of invitations to events, meetings with high-level Pakistani officials, assistance with procuring public jobs for relatives, assistance with securing Pakistani visas for associates, reimbursement for expenses, and the use of diplomatic channels to mail personal items. Mr. Chaudhry sentence is unknown because it took place during a sealed proceeding, but federal prosecutors agreed as part of his plea deal to recommend five years of probation and just six months of home detention.
- Prince Asiel Ben Israel (2014)—Mr. Ben Israel of Illinois pleaded guilty and was sentenced to seven months in prison for willfully failing to register under FARA in connection with his activities on behalf of the Government of Zimbabwe. Mr. Ben Israel began discussing the possible removal of U.S. sanctions against Zimbabwe in 2008 with government and political party officials in Zimbabwe. He arranged for trips by U.S. officials to meet with Zimbabwean officials, attempted to have Zimbabwean officials speak at issues forums in the U.S., arranged travel and meetings in the U.S. for Zimbabwean officials, and lobbied state legislators on behalf of Zimbabwean officials. Mr. Ben Israel traveled to Africa to withdraw $90,000 from the bank account of a Zimbabwean official after a wire transfer was blocked by his U.S. bank.
- Syed Ghulam Nab Fai (2011)—Mr. Fai, a U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years in prison for concealing his receipt of a payment for lobbying from the Government of Pakistan. Mr. Fai was originally charged with willfully failing to register under FARA, but the FARA charge was later dropped at the time he pleaded guilty to other charges. Mr. Fai served as the director of the Kashmiri American Council, a U.S. nonprofit, that “held itself out to be run by Kashmiris, financed by Americans, and dedicated to raising the level of knowledge in the United States about the struggle of the Kashmiri people for self-determination.” Court documents indicated, however, that the Council was funded by the Government of Pakistan’s intelligence service. Mr. Fai’s lobbying work lasted from 1990 until 2011.
- Mark Siljander and Abdel Azim El-Siddig (2010)—Mr. Siljander, a former U.S. Congressman, pleaded guilty and received a one-year sentence for obstructing justice and willfully failing to register under FARA. Mr. Siljander was hired in 2004 to lobby various U.S. officials for the removal of the Islamic American Relief Agency, which served as the U.S. office of a Sudan-based international organization, from a U.S. Senate Finance Committee list of charities suspected of funding terrorism. Mr. Siljander’s payments for the lobbying services were funneled through multiple nonprofit entities at his instruction. Mr. El-Siddig, who was an employee of the Islamic American Relief Agency, also pleaded guilty for failing to register under FARA and received two years’ probation.
- Tongsun Park (2007)—Mr. Park was convicted at trial and received a five-year sentence for conspiracy to violate FARA and other federal laws in connection with his efforts on behalf of the Government of Iraq to lobby for the easing of U.S. sanctions on Iraq and influence the award conditions of United Nations “Oil for Food” contracts. Mr. Park primarily served as an intermediary to United Nations officials, while an associate interfaced primarily with U.S. government officials and other U.S. persons. Mr. Park received $2 million for his efforts and worked on behalf of Saddam Hussein’s regime from 1992 until 2003.
- Samir Vincent (2005)—Mr. Vincent, an Iraqi-born naturalized U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty and received a five-year prison sentence for crimes connected with his activities on behalf of the Iraqi Government. Mr. Vincent was originally charged with willfully failing to register under FARA, but ultimately entered a guilty plea for violating FARA’s “sister provision” at 18 U.S.C. § 951 and committing other federal crimes. From 1992 to 2003, Mr. Vincent received direction from Saddam Hussein’s regime and intelligence service related to influencing U.S. sanctions imposed on Iraq and to affecting the structure of the United Nations “Oil for Food” program. Mr. Vincent received millions of dollars in cash and Iraqi oil allocations for his efforts.
- Sam Zakhem (1992)—Mr. Zakhem, a former U.S. ambassador, was indicted for willfully failing to register under FARA and for violating other federal laws. The Department of Justice alleged that Mr. Zakhem and two associates accepted $7.7 million from the Government of Kuwait through a group called the Coalition for America at Risk to win support for American military intervention following Iraq’s 1990 invasion, an effort that allegedly involved the retention of a prominent public-relations firm and the placement of several newspaper advertisements. The FARA charges were later dropped in 1994 after the principal Assistant U.S. Attorney responsible for the case resigned. Mr. Zakhem was later acquitted of the remaining federal tax charges.
SUMMARIES OF CRIMINAL CASES (1967-1987)
- John McGoff (1986)—Mr. McGoff, a U.S. citizen who owned several newspapers throughout the United States, was charged with a willful failure to register under FARA for his activities on behalf of the Government of South Africa. The Department of Justice alleged that Mr. McGoff accepted $11 million from the South African Department of Information in 1979 to acquire the “Washington Star” newspaper and transform it into a publication that would promote South Africa’s “point of view” in the United States. The U.S. District Court dismissed the case on the basis that the five-year statute of limitations barred prosecution, finding that the alleged offense was completed once Mr. McGoff’s activities had ended in 1979. The D.C. Circuit upheld the District Court’s ruling.
- Tongsun Park (1977)—Mr. Park, who would later be convicted in 2007 for willfully violating FARA, was initially charged in 1977 for willfully failing to register under FARA for his activities on behalf of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency during the 1970s. Mr. Park’s activities involved South Korea’s participation in the U.S. “Food for Peace” program and receipt of several million dollars, some of which was diverted for bribery and lobbying expenses. The FARA charges against Mr. Park were ultimately dropped as part of a plea bargain.
SUMMARIES OF CRIMINAL CASES (1946-1966)
- Igor Cassini and R. Paul Englander (1963)—Mr. Cassini, a syndicated New York society columnist, and R. Paul Englander, a New York City attorney, were charged with willfully failing to register under FARA and with conspiracy to violate FARA. Messrs. Cassini and Englander were accused of conducting a public relations program on behalf of the Trujillo Government of the Dominican Republic in exchange for $150,000. Both defendants separately entered pleas of no contest. Mr. Cassini was ultimately fined $10,000 and received six months of probation. Mr. Englander was also fined $10,000 and placed on probation for six months.
- Elmer Henry Loughlin (1963)—Dr. Elmer Henry Loughlin, an American physician residing in Haiti, was charged with willfully failing to register under FARA for his activities on behalf of the Government of Haiti. Dr. Loughlin subsequently entered a plea of no contest and received a “suspended sentence of one to four years with probation for a period of four years.”
- William Shergalis and Hector Garcia Soto (1961)—William Shergalis, an American pilot, was charged with willfully failing to register under FARA after making a flight to Cuba in 1960 “purportedly to pick up a former official of the Batista regime” but in fact “took part in this flight under the direction of officials from the Cuban Government” of Fidel Castro. Mr. Shergalis was sentenced to a five-year prison term for violating FARA. Mr. Soto, a Cuban air force serviceman, was also charged with a FARA violation in connection with the flight, but a jury acquitted him.
- Prensa Latina and Francisco Portela (1961)—Prensa Latina, a news corporation organized under the laws of Cuba was charged with willfully failing to register under FARA. Mr. Portela, the news corporation’s New York correspondence, was also charged with willfully failing to cause Prensa Latina to register under the Act as well as with failure to register himself as an agent of Prensa Latina. Prensa Latina ultimately entered a no-contest plea and was fined $2,000. The charges against Mr. Portela were dismissed.
- John Joseph Frank (1959)—Mr. Frank, a Washington, D.C. attorney and former F.B.I. agent, was charged with willfully failing to register under FARA after collecting information for the Trujillo Government in Dominican Republic. Mr. Frank was found guilty at trial on all counts of the indictment, but the Court of Appeals later reversed his conviction and remanded the case for a new trial on the ground that the prosecutor’s attempt to connect the defendant with an unrelated event known as the “Galindez-Murphy affair” deprived him of a fair trial. Retrial commenced, but before the case was submitted to the jury, the trial court accepted a no-test plea from Mr. Frank to two of the four counts in the indictment “on the express condition that the defendant file an acceptable registration statement.” (The court had previously dismissed counts two and four of the indictment.) Mr. Frank was ultimately fined $1,000 on each count, after having filed a registration statement with the Department of Justice.
- Alexander Guterma, Hal Roach, Jr., and Garland Culpepper, Jr. (1959)—A three-count indictment was returned, the first count of which charged Messrs. Guterma and Roach with failed to register under FARA as publicity agents for the Government of the Dominican Republic. The second count charged that Messrs. Guterma, Roach and Culpepper, as officers and directors of a media outlet called the Mutual Broadcasting System, failed to cause the Mutual Broadcasting, System to file a FARA registration statement. The third count charged a conspiracy on the part of all three defendants to evade FARA registration. The indictment alleged in part that the defendants in their capacities Mutual Broadcasting System officers and directors, agreed to utilize the System’s facilities for the purpose of disseminating propaganda within the United States favorable to the Dominican Republic in return for the payment of $750,000 from the Government. The three defendants each initially entered pleas of not guilty. The indictment against Mr. Culpepper was dismissed on motion of the Department of Justice. Mr. Guterma subsequently withdrew his not-guilty plea and entered a no-contest plea to Count 1 of the indictment. Mr. Roach also subsequently withdrew his not-guilty plea and entered a no-contest plea to Count 2 of the indictment. The pleas were accepted by the court over the Department’s objection.
- Arnaldo Barron (1958)—Mr. Barron, a U.S. citizen of Cuban heritage, was indicted for acting as “an agent of Fidel Castro and the July 26 Movement of Cuba without having filed the registration statement required by the Act.” His activities included soliciting funds for the movement holding mass meetings distributing propaganda and attempting to supply the Cuban revolutionary forces with arms and ammunition. Mr. Barron was indicted after he refused two requests from the Department of Justice on two occasions to file a FARA registration. Mr. Barron ultimately filed a late registration after the indictment and entered a no-contest plea. He received a suspended sentence of five years and was placed on probation for that period.
- Jane Foster Zlatovski (1957)—A five-count indictment was returned against Jane Foster Zlatovski and her husband George Zlatovski, who were both formerly employed by the U.S. Office of Strategic Services. One count of the indictment charged Ms. Zlatovski with willfully failing to register under FARA as an agent of the Soviet Union. Ms. Zlatovski fled the United States and was never extradited to face the charges.
- Jack Soble and Jacob Albam (1957)—A six-count indictment was returned, the first two counts of which charged conspiracy to violate the peacetime espionage statutes; the third count alleged a conspiracy among the defendants to act as Soviet agents within the United States without prior notification to the Secretary of State; the fourth count charged Jack Soble with the substantive offense; the fifth and sixth counts charged a failure to register under FARA as agents of the Soviet Union. Messrs. Soble and Albam entered guilty pleas to the second count of the indictment, charging a conspiracy to obtain information relating to the national defense for the purpose of transmitting such information to the Soviet Union, and the remaining counts were dismissed.
- Rumanian American Publishing Association and 9 Individuals (1956)—The Romanian American Publishing Association, the publisher of a Romanian-language newspaper, and nine of its former and current officers, were charged with willfully acting as a publicity and propaganda agent for the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of the People’s Republic of Rumania without having filed a registration statement under FARA. The officers were charged with having failed to cause the Association to register. After filing a registration statement under the Act, the Association entered a plea of no contest and was fined $2,000. The indictment was dismissed as to the individual defendants.
- Peace Information Center (1951)—The Department of Justice brought charges against the Peace Information Center, which was responsible for the dissemination in the United States of the so-called “Stockholm Peace Appeal” to promote nuclear disarmament associated with writer W.E.B. Du Bois, for failing to register under FARA as an agent of the Committee of the World Congress of the Defenders of Peace, a nongovernmental organization. The Department had initially instructed the Center to register, but the Center disputed the need for registration because it claimed to act on its own behalf. The Department’s case initially withstood a motion to dismiss but was later dismissed by the trial judge on defense motion after completion of the Government’s case, with the court holding that it was incumbent upon the Department to establish the agency relationship as defined by the Re-Statement of the Law of Agency in order to sustain a conviction for failure to register. The Department later commented that it believed this decision was in error because the trial judge relied on a prior opinion issues prior to the 1942 amendments to FARA, saying that it “is the Government’s contention that the Foreign Agents Registration Act as amended in 1942 has substituted the statutory definition for the column law definition of the term ‘agent.’”
- Amtorg Trading Corporation (1949)—Amtorg Trading Corporation, a U.S.S.R.-based business, was indicted for failure to register under FARA after refusing multiple times to file at the Department’s direction. The Corporation was previously exempt from FARA registration under an exemption that applied to Allied interests during World War II. Immediately after the indictment, the Corporation filed a registration statement, naming as its foreign principals 18 Soviet Government-controlled trading companies as well as the Ministry of Maritime Fleet, the Ministry of Foreign Trade, and the Bank of Foreign Trade of the U.S.S.R. Upon filing the FARA registration, the Corporation entered a plea of no contest that was accepted by the Court and the indictment was dismissed.
SUMMARIES OF CRIMINAL CASES (1938-1945)
- B. Westermann Company Inc. and Ernest Eisele (1944)—B. Westermann Company, Inc., a New York bookstore closed by the FBI in 1941, was indicted for failure to register as an agent under FARA after disseminating material in exchange for compensation from the German Government’s Reich Ministry of Pulbic Enlightenment and Propaganda. The Company’s president, Mr. Eisele, was charged with aiding and abetting the company in its willful failure to file a registration statement. Each defendant entered a plea of not guilty. The indictments were ultimately dismissed.
- German-American Vocational League, Inc., DAB Recreational Resort, Inc., and 27 Individuals (1943)—The German-American Vocational League, its subsidiary DAB Recreational Resort, and 27 of the League’s individual members were indicted for conspiring to violate both FARA and the Notification Act. The indictment alleged that the League, which maintained chapters in 12 American cities, had official connections with the German Labor Front (to which the League remitted dues), the Nazi Youth Organization, the German Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, the German Authority for Tourism, and the German Railroads Information Office, and the “Volksbund fuer das Deutschtum in Ausland” (VDA), which sought to exercise political control over Germans residing abroad. The indictment specified that the League carried out its program by: (1) publishing papers in praise of Nazism and urging its readers to help keep America out of war, for the purpose of deluding the American people until such time as any help they might render to Germany’s enemies would come too late; (2) distributing large amounts of propaganda in the form of literature, motion pictures, and lectures; (3) recruiting and providing financial assistance to skilled workers of German descent to return to Germany; (4) financially assisting certain individuals to attend schools in Germany to be trained in National Socialist tactics; (5) communicating in code with, and receiving instructions from, Germany; (6) setting up and equipping, with the assistance of $13,000 from the German Labor Front, Camp Bergwald at Pompton Lakes, NJ for use in disseminating propaganda, in educating persons in National Socialism, in developing its youth organization, and as an attraction for new members; (7) concealing its true character as an agent of the German Government by masquerading as a fraternal and recreational society; and (8) raising money for the use of the German Government. When the case came to trial, the count charging conspiracy to violate the Notification Act was dismissed, and the cases of eight defendants, three of whom were in Germany at the time, were severed. Of the remainder who went to trial, 9 defendants, including both organizations, were convicted of conspiracy to violate FARA, verdicts of not guilty were directed as to 4 defendants, 5 defendants were acquitted by the jury, and the jury was unable to reach a verdict on 3 defendants. The convictions were affirmed upon appeal, with the Circuit Court notably stating with respect to “agent” the following: “The true test, we think, was whether agency in fact existed, with the term agency defined substantially as in the Restatement of Agency, Section 1, which states it to be: ‘The relationship which results from the manifestation of consent by one person to another that the other shall act on his behalf and subject to his control, and consent by the other so to act.’”
- Carl Orgell (1943)—Mr. Orgell, an engineer living on Staten Island, was indicted for failing to register under FARA as an agent of the German Foreign Office and the Nazi Party after performing work from 1935 to 1941. The indictment also charged that Mr. Orgell misrepresented the nature of the business of the Volksbund fuer das Deutschtum in Ausland (VDA), for whom he had registered as a FARA agent, when he described it as a a private membership society engaged in strictly private cultural activities. He pleaded no contest to the charges.
- Domenico Trombetta (1943)—Mr. Trombetta, a native of Italy, became a U.S. citizen in 1924. In 1923, he began publication of a pro-Fascist weekly publication called Il Grido della Stirpe in New York City. Until late in 1938, the newspaper bore the legend “Organ of Fascist Propaganda” and thereafter, and until it ceased publication on December 13, 1941, the legend “Weekly, in Defense of Everything Italian in America.” He was indicted for failing to register under FARA as an agent of the Italian Government after receiving compensation from the Government in connection with his writing. Mr. Trombetta entered a plea of no contest, was given a suspended sentence of 8 months to 2 years, and then was placed on probation. Mr. Trombetta’s naturalization was set aside and he was interned as an enemy alien.
- Otis Wingo, Jr. (1943)—Mr. Wingo was charged in a four-count indictment for failing to register under FARA after acting as a public relations counsel, publicity agent, and representative in the United States for the Government of Finland, the Government of Sweden, and the Swedish Industries Fund, Inc. (a New York City organization subsidized by various business concerns in Sweden). Mr. Wingo had initially registered under FARA as an agent of the Finnish Government in 1940, but later submitted an affidavit that he had terminated his agency as of 1941. The indictment alleged, though, that after the termination of his registration, Mr. Wingo continued to furnish analyses of news and public opinion, offer advice on press releases and official statements to Finnish Government officials, and arrange meetings between Finnish officials and American press. The indictment also alleged that Mr. Wingo had acted as an agent for the Swedish Legation and the Swedish Industries Fund, Inc., for which he filed a post-indictment registration under FARA. Mr. Wingo ultimately entered a plea of no contest and was fined $500.
- John Kelly (1943)—Mr. Kelly was indicted for failing to register under FARA as an agent for the Spanish Library of Information. He had worked on behalf of the Peninsular New Service since 1937, distributed material (and even a movie to the U.S. Army Reserves) on behalf of the Franco faction during the Spanish Civil War, and made paid speeches “endeavoring to popularize General Franco.” Mr. Kelly also wrote for the magazine Spain, which was the official propaganda arm of the Spanish Government, and wrote pro-Franco articles in other publications. Mr. Kelly pleaded not guilty, but was convicted and fined $500. Motions to set aside the verdict and initiate a new trial were denied.
- Glicherie Moraru, Stefan Opreanu, and George Zamfir (1942)—In a four-count indictment, Messrs. Moraru, Opreanu, and Zamfir were charged with failing to register under FARA as agents of King Carol of Romania (though Mr. Moraru had filed a late registration immediately prior to the indictment) and with failing to label and file copies of propaganda material they disseminated, as provided in FARA. The three individuals were also charged with violating the Notification Act, which was a separate statute in place at the time. The defendants, who organized the “Free Romanian Movement” and published periodicals called The Free Romanian and Glasul Romanesc, issued materials advocating that King Carol be recognized as the leader of the Romanian nation, and that the King be admitted into the United States. The defendants originally pleaded not guilty, but later withdrew their not-guilty pleas and substituted pleas of no contest to the first count of the indictment, with the remaining three counts were dismissed. Moraru was ultimately sentenced to 5 years in prison and a $3,000 fine, Opreanu was sentenced to 4 years in prison and a fine of $2,000, and Zamfir was sentenced to 2 years in prison and a fine of $500.
- Tsutomu Obana, K. Takahashi, S. Takeuchi, Ralph Townsend, David Ryder, and Frederick Williams (1942)—Messrs. Obana, Takahashi, and Takeguchi, who were Japanese nationals, and Messrs. Townsend, Ryder, and Williams, who were U.S. citizens, were indicted for violating FARA and for conspiring to violate FARA. Messrs. Obana, Takahashi, and Takeguchi organized or were involved with a group called the “Japanese Committee on Trade and Information” in San Francisco, which distributed pro-Japanese literature and received $175,000 from the Japanese Consulate. They registered under FARA for their work, but the indictment alleged that he had made false statements in their FARA disclosures and failed to disclose that the Japanese Government was their foreign principal. Messrs. Townsend and Ryder were charged with failing to register under FARA entirely after serving as publicity agents and public relations counsel for the Japanese Committee on Trade and Information. Mr. Williams was charged with failing to disclose the Japanese Government as his foreign principal on his FARA registration for the publication Japan Times and Mail. Mr. Obana pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 2 to 6 months in prison. Messrs, Takahashi and Takeguchi were deported. Mr. Townsend pleaded guilty to the substantive count and was sentenced to 8 months to 2 years in prison, with the conspiracy count against him being dismissed. Messrs. Williams and Ryder pleaded not guilty, but were each convicted and sentenced to 16 months’ to 4 years’ imprisonment.
- Laura Ingalls (1941)—Ms. Ingalls, a famous American aviator and activist for the pro-isolationist “America First” Committee, was indicted for failing to register under FARA as an agent for the Nazi German Government after she agreed to accept $300 per month from the German Embassy to make speeches to influence American public opinion. By the time of her arrest, Ms. Ingalls had accepted $500 from the German Embassy for this purpose. Ms. Ingllas pleaded not guilty but was tried, convicted, and sentenced to serve 8 to 24 months in prison.
- George Viereck (1941)—Mr. Viereck, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was indicted for violating FARA by willfully failing to disclose information in three Supplemental Statements. Mr. Viereck had registered under FARA as an agent for a Munich newspaper and for the German Library of Information. One question on the Supplemental Statement required Mr. Viereck to list a “comprehensive statement of nature of [his] business.” He described himself as an “author and journalist” rather than provide a comprehensive listing of all activities conducted during the reporting period. He did not, for example, disclose activities in connection with Flanders Hall, Inc., a publishing house he controlled that distributed written information highly critical of British colonialism and other Western ideals. Mr. Viereck also formed the “Make Europe Pay War Debts Committee” and the “Islands for War Debts Committee,” and made use of these organizations as a means of distributing propaganda through the press, via radio, and under congressional frank. When submitting the case to the jury during Mr. Viereck’s trial, the judge instructed: “If you find that the defendant engaged in the activities set forth in the indictment, it is not necessary that you find that he engaged in such activities on behalf of his foreign principal or principals; it is sufficient if you find that he engaged in the activities, whether on behalf of his foreign principal or principals or on his own behalf.” Mr. Viereck was convicted on three counts, and sentenced to 8 months’ to 2 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $500 on each count, with the terms of imprisonment to run consecutively. After conviction, Mr. Viereck appealed to the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the conviction. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, reversed the conviction and held that FARA did not include, in the enumeration of information to be given in a Supplemental Statement, any reference to Mr. Viereck’s activities on his own behalf, and consequently, the jury had been erroneously instructed. Viereck was subsequently re-indicted for violating FARA in failing to disclose: (1) that one of his foreign principals was the German Foreign Office, which evidence indicated he had served as a political advisor by sending weekly reports; (2) that he received compensation from the German Consulate in New York; (3) certain political activities on behalf of his disclosed principals; and (4) that he financed, directed and controlled Flanders Hall, Inc. and other propaganda outlets. Viereck was convicted on all six counts of this indictment and sentenced to 2 to 10 months’ imprisonment on each count, the terms of imprisonment to run consecutively. The Court of Appeals affirmed this conviction and the U.S. Supreme Court denied cert.
- Frank Burch (1941)—Mr. Burch, an American lawyer, was charged with failing to register under FARA as an agent of the Nazi German Government after he acted as counsel for a German Consul stationed in Cleveland. The indictment alleged that the Consul supplied Mr. Burch with funds, books, pamphlets, periodicals, and a 25,000-name mailing list in order to influence public opinion to oppose pending national defense legislation. Mr. Burch also helped the Consul distribute a periodical called Facts in Review, which was a publication of the German Library of Information, to approximately 30,000 Americans. He pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to 8 to 24 months’ imprisonment and a fine of $1,000. The prison sentence and fine were suspended, and Mr. Burch was placed on probation. Mr. Burch was also initially disbarred for committing a crime of “moral turpitude,” but that disbarment was overturned.
- Paul Fehse (1941)—Mr. Fehse, a German native who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1938, was indicted for conspiring to violate FARA. Mr. Fehse was trained during a return trip to Germany in 1939 to serve as a German espionage agent. He pleaded guilty to the FARA charge and was sentenced to one year and one day’s imprisonment. Mr. Fehse was separately charged and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for violating the Espionage Act.
- Friedrich Auhagen (1941)—Mr. Auhagen, a former professor of German literature at Columbia University who directed a pro-isolationism group called the “American Fellowship Forum,” was indicted for failing to register under FARA after receiving compensation for work on behalf of the Nazi German Government. Mr. Auhagen pleaded not guilty, was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 2 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $1,000. Upon release from imprisonment, Mr. Auhagen’s naturalization was set aside, and he was interned as an enemy alien.
- Transocean News Service, Manfred Zapp, and Guenther Tonn (1941)—Transocean News Service as well as Messrs. Zapp and Tonn were indicted for violating FARA. The News Service was charged with failing to register as an “agent of a foreign principal,” and Messrs. Zapp and Tonn were charged with counseling and procuring the News Service not to register. Mr. Zapp, manager of the News Service, was also charged with: (1) failing to disclose that he had distributed propaganda on behalf of Transocean, G.m.b.H. (a foreign corporation), the Nazi German Government, and the Nazi Party; (2) failing to register as an agent for Berlin publishing house Deutsche Verlag; and (3) failing to disclose his activities in the publication and distribution of the pro-German publication, The German White Paper. Mr. Tonn was charged with failing to register as an agent of Transocean, G.m.b.H. The News Service pleaded guilty and was fined $1,000 and the costs of prosecution. Messrs. Zapp and Tonn were repatriated to Germany in exchange for American nationals, and the indictment against them was dismissed.
- Emil Wolff (1940)—Mr. Wolff was arrested in the Panama Canal Zone while en route to Argentina. He was engaged in carrying from German consuls in the United States secret documents and codes to representatives of the German Government in South America. Mr. Wolff was charged with failing to register under FARA after acting as an agent of the Nazi German Government. He was also charged with violating the Notification Act, which was a similar law in place at the time. Mr. Wolff pleaded guilty, received a suspended sentence of 3 months’ imprisonment, and was fined $2,000.
- Herbert Hoehne (1940)—Mr. Hoehne, a German traveler arrested in San Francisco en route to Buenos Aires with consular dispatches in his possession, was charged with failing to register under FARA as an agent of the Nazi German Government. He was also charged with violating the Notification Act, which was a similar law in place at the time. The dispatches were instructions as to codes and materials transported in a sealed trunk. The indictment was later dismissed and the defendant was permitted to leave the United States, with the Department of State and the Department of Justice concurring in the view that no useful purpose would be served in prosecuting Mr. Hoehne in view of a conviction of another German in a companion case.
- World Tourist, Inc. and Jacob Raisin (1940)—World Tourist, Inc., a travel bureau of New York City, was indicted for willfully failing to register under FARA. World Tourist received compensation from, and acting under the direction of, Intourist, an official travel agency of the Soviet government, and with inserting propaganda in various newspapers, magazines, and periodicals, on behalf of Intourist without registering. Mr. Raisin (a.k.a. Jacob Golos), an officer and the sole stockholder of World Tourist, was also indicted for aiding, abetting, and procuring World Tourist and for willfully failing to register under FARA. Both defendants pleaded guilty. World Tourist, Inc., was fined $500. Raisin was fined $500 and received a suspended sentence of 4 months’ to one year’s imprisonment. He was placed on probation.
- Bookniga, Inc., Boris Nikolsky, and Llila Illyan (1939)—Bookniga, Inc., the successor to Bookniga Corporation (whose officers were indicted earlier in 1939—see Rush, Liskin, and Weinberg) as well as Bookniga’s officers, Boris Nikolsky and Llila Illyan were indicted for willfully failing to disclose an oral contract with Bookniga’s foreign principal, Mezhdunarodnaya Kniga, concerning the distribution of Soviet propaganda in the United States. The defendants pleaded guilty. The corporation and Nikolsky were fined $1,000 each, and Illyan was fined $500.
- Raphael Rush, Morris Liskin, and Norman Weinberg (1939)—In the first FARA criminal enforcement case, Messrs. Rush, Liskin, and Weinberg were indicted as officers of Bookniga Corporation, which sold printed materials published in the Soviet Union, for failing to register under FARA agents of Mezhdunarodnaya Kniga in U.S.S.R., an organization controlled by the Peoples’ Commissariat of Foreign Trade, an arm of the Soviet Government. They were also charged with conspiring to evade such registration. Mr. Liskin pleaded guilty to the first count of the indictment, received a suspended sentence of 4 to 18 months’ imprisonment, and was fined $500. He pleaded not guilty to the second count, was convicted and sentenced to 8 months’ to 2 years’ imprisonment, and was fined $500. Messrs. Rush and Weinberg pleaded not guilty, but were tried and convicted. Mr. Rush was sentenced to 8 months’ to 2 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $500 on the first count, and to 4 months’ to one year imprisonment and a fine of $500 on the second count, the terms of imprisonment to run consecutively. Mr. Weinberg was sentenced to 6 to 18 months in prison and was fined $500.
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