SOUTH FLORIDA BUSINESS JOURNAL – FEBRUARY 12, 1993
JUDGE ORDERS ACQUITTAL IN EXODUS TRIAL
CUSTOMS ENTRAPS EGYPTIAN GENERAL WITHOUT EVIDENCE
By Rick Eyerdam
A federal judge has ruled that agents of the U.S. Customs’ Operation Exodus entrapped, arrested and brought to trial a highly regarded Egyptian Air Force general without evidence a crime had been committed.
In an unusual and often hilarious trial completed last week, Miami attorney Frank Rubino represented Mounir Fahmy Bourson, a retired Egyptian general accused by Customs of conspiring to violate the U.S. arms export laws by selling TOW missiles.
Judy Hunt, the assistant U.S. attorney for the Middle District of produced a five-week parade of prosecution witnesses including three under-cover agents, hundreds of hours of tape recordings and a cast of government experts.
After the prosecution rested, Rubino argued for a directed verdict of acquittal, insisting the prosecution had yet to prove a crime was committed.
This is a step frequently taken by defense attorneys, especially if they have an appeal in mind.
But, to everyone’s surprise, U.S. District Court Judge G. Kendall Sharp responded by dismissing the jury and ordering the directed verdict of acquittal without ever hearing Rubino’s defense.
“Actually, we put on our defense during the five weeks the prosecution was up,” Rubino said. “That was our strategy. To use their experts to discredit their case. This was the dumbest case I’ve ever seen.”
An exclusive interview with Rubino and an examination of trial records shows Fahmy was chief of planning in the Egyptian Air Force until his retirement in 1988.
After retirement, he began a business as an arms broker in Cairo.
At about the same time the Customs Operation Exodus, the 15-year-old effort by Customs to stem the flow of arms and technology to America’s enemies.
Customs set up a phony arms company, Poseidon Trade Group, Inc. in Orlando then mailed and faxed solicitations around the world looking for unsuspecting arms dealers to entrap.