SAN JOSE, Calif. Former Aptix founder and CEO Amr Mohsen's legal troubles have escalated following a July 27 superseding indictment that states Mohsen attempted to have witnesses intimidated and a federal judge killed. Mohsen has been jailed since March after he apparently tried to flee the country prior to a perjury trial.
The new indictment repeats the original charges of perjury, mail fraud, and obstruction of justice, and adds new charges including attempted witness tampering, solicitation to commit murder, and solicitation to commit arson. The 23 counts carry a potential combined jail time of over 100 years. The indictment was filed in U.S. district court in San Francisco.
According to an affidavit filed by an FBI agent, Mohsen tried to hire a fellow inmate at the Santa Rita jail in Dublin, Calif., to threaten five witnesses by phone, commit arson at the home of a government witness, and stage a break-in of the car of another witness and leave a threatening note.
The informant contacted the FBI, who outfitted him with a wire. An undercover FBI agent posed as "Kimo," the individual who supposedly would arrange the crimes. Mohsen reportedly told the informant his sister would contact Kimo. The affidavit states that Kimo was contacted by an unidentified female with a Middle Eastern accent and was paid $2,000 on behalf of Mohsen by a man identified by the FBI as Mohamed Ali Moussa.
Sources told EE Times that the man mentioned in the affidavit is the same Mohamed Ali Moussa who is the president and CEO of Altavion (Santa Clara, Calif.), a company that's developing products for paper-to-digital data conversion. Contacted by EE Times, Moussa appeared to be unaware of his mention in the indictment, but acknowledged that he's a friend of Mohsen. Moussa, who has not been accused of criminal activity, then discontinued the conversation, saying further communications would have to come from his lawyer.
In further recorded conversations with the informant, according to the affidavit, Mohsen changed his mind about burning down the government witness' house and instead asked for his car to be torched. He then told the informant he wanted federal judge William Alsup, who was presiding over the Mohsen case, made to "disappear" so he would "never be found."
According to the affidavit, Mohsen tried to negotiate with the informant to have Alsup murdered for $10,000, after the informant had suggested the murder of the judge would cost $25,000. The affidavit also describes a recorded conversation in which Mohsen and the informant discussed various methods of killing the judge, including a gas leak. Mohsen reportedly asked which method would be the least traceable.
According to the affidavit, Mohsen also went to great lengths to build an insanity defense by asking his psychologist daughter questions about psychosis disorders, reading books on the subject, and viewing videos including "A Beautiful Mind." As a result, Mohsen a Caltech PhD was charged with obstruction of justice by "feigning incompetency to delay a federal trial."
Amr Mohsen's next scheduled court appearance is August 4, 2004, before district judge Phyllis Hamilton. Mohsen's brother Aly, who is facing perjury charges, is also scheduled to appear. Judge Alsup has been recused from the case.
Amr Mohsen's legal troubles began in 2000 after Aptix, a provider of rapid prototyping and emulation systems, licensed a patent to Mentor Graphics so Mentor could sue emulation arch-rival Quickturn.
The case was thrown out of court after the patent was ruled fraudulent. Court documents from the 2000 case stated that Mohsen falsified engineering diaries and staged a break-in of his own car allegedly to conceal evidence.
Then in 2003, Mohsen and his brother Aly were indicted on 19 counts including conspiracy to commit perjury, perjury, subornation of perjury, mail fraud and obstruction of justice related to their action in the civil case. The maximum statutory penalty for each count is five years in prison.
In March of this year, days before the perjury trial was to begin, Amr Mohsen was tailed and then jailed by FBI agents for
allegedly attempting to flee the country to the Cayman Islands. The FBI reportedly recovered an Egyptian passport, issued March 25, and approximately $20,000 in $100 bills.
Mohsen was charged with "knowingly disobeying and resisting a court order of U.S. lawful writ, process, order, rules, decree and command" a charge that carries a potential 6 months in prison.
In March, Aptix filed for and was granted chapter 11 protection. Soon after, the company's board appointed a friend of Mohsen's, Hamdi El-Sissi, as its new CEO. At last report, Mohsen was still the majority owner of the privately-held company.
A statement issued Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney's office has an important caution: "An indictment simply contains allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Amr and Aly Mohsen must be presumed innocent unless and until convicted."