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Federal Criminal Case Against Reagan National Security Adviser Dropped

Dec. 2, 2013

No criminal charges will be filed against former National Security Adviser Robert “Bud” McFarlane, according to his attorney, Barry Levine. Federal authorities recently concluded their investigation of McFarlane, whom they once suspected of having an inappropriate relationship with the government of Sudan, and told Levine that “the investigation they did was thorough and it’s closed.”

Levine made the announcement last week, and so far has declined to discuss the reasons why federal prosecutors terminated the case against his client, who is best known for his role as one of several Reagan administration officials convicted in connection with the Iran-Contra scandal. Levine did, however, stress that McFarlane was “totally innocent of any allegation” and the announcement by federal prosecutors is both an exoneration and vindication of his client.

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The FBI launched its investigation into McFarlane’s activities after a 2009 Washington Post article outlined McFarlane’s involvement with the African nation of Sudan, which has long sought relief from U.S. economic sanctions and to be removed from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. The Washington Post reported that Sudanese officials helped to arrange a $1.3 million contract between the government of Qatar and McFarlane, who later met with two of the Obama administration’s top policymakers on Sudan.

The investigation was initially conducted in secret and only became public earlier this year, when federal agents searched McFarlane’s ninth-floor Watergate condominium. Prior to that search, the FBI scoured McFarlane’s business email account in 2010 and federal agents sifted through the trash at the offices of his consulting firm in Arlington, Virginia, according to court documents

it was also alleged by the FBI that McFarlane was “entering into an agreement with the government of Sudan to lobby the U.S. government officials on behalf of Sudan.” This was assumed as Sudanese officials who were seeking access to the incoming Obama administration approached McFarlane in 2008.

According to U.S. law, it is a crime to work as an agent of a foreign government without proper disclosure. There are also restrictions against doing business with Sudan because of its well-documented history of human rights violations related to its decades-long civil war.

In his comments about his client’s case, Levine insisted the search warrant should never have been made public because it reflected the “misguided” perception of federal investigators rather than any formal accusation of criminal wrongdoing. Levine also maintains McFarlane is a patriot and a humanitarian who was acting on behalf of Qatar, not Sudan, because his client understands how the people of Darfur have suffered “at the hands of the Sudanese.” McFarlane’s efforts in that region have concluded, Levine said, and his client has moved on to projects related to global energy and improving life in Southeast Washington.

McFarlane rose to prominence in the wake of the Iran Contra scandal in 1986, almost a year after he had resigned as National Security Adviser and after, he said, he had urged Reagan to end the secret sales of arms to Iran. The proceeds from those sales were used used to support the Contras in Nicaragua.

McFarlane later pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress as part of the Iran-Contra cover-up. He received an official presidential pardon in 1992, along with several other key figures in the scandal.

McFarlane’s case is a prime example of why retaining an experienced defense attorney is crucial when facing federal charges. If you have been charged with, or are under investigation for a white collar crime, it is vitally important that you secure the representation of a federal criminal defense lawyer who has the passion, drive, and knowledge needed to stand up to nation’s toughest federal authorities. For more information on federal crimes and the benefits of retaining a federal criminal defense attorney please contact the following for a free consultation.