Criminal actions in patent litigation
The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern
District of California announced that a former
chairman and CEO of a high-tech company [Aptix] was indicted
today on charges of plotting the murder of a federal
judge in San Francisco and the intimidation of
witnesses connected to his case. In addition to the
23 counts facing the chairman and CEO, his brother was
also charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and
Amr Mohsen, 57 of Los Gatos, California and his
brother, Aly Mohsen, 51 of Springfield, Missouri, were
charged in a superseding indictment today by a federal
grand jury on 23 counts. Amr Moshen was charged with
soliciting to commit the murder of the federal judge
who was hearing his criminal case–the Hon. William H.
Alsup–in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 373 ,
solicitation of arson in violation of Title 18 U.S.C.
§ 373, and attempted witness tampering in violation of
Title 18 U.S.C. § 1512.
The federal case involving Mr. Mohsen began when he
was a witness in a civil patent matter, Aptix
Corporation et al. v. QuickTurn Design Systems, Inc.
Mr. Mohsen was the founder, chairman and CEO of Aptix,
the plaintiff. That case was being heard by Judge
Alsup in San Francisco. During the civil trial, Mr.
Mohsen testified about an Engineering Notebook that
would have given him exclusive rights to a patent
because he claimed to have invented the technology in
question involving "field programmable" circuit
boards. According to the indictment, Amr Mohsen, the
founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Aptix
Corporation, along with his brother Aly Mohsen, were
originally indicted for perjury and obstruction of
justice for testimony given in the civil trial. That
criminal case was also pending before Judge Alsup and
was about to go to trial when Amr Moshen was arrested
for contempt of court and violating the conditions of
On April 20, 2004, a superseding indictment was
returned which included an additional count against
Amr Mohsen for contempt of court in violation of Title
18 U.S.C. § 401(3). This count was filed after Amr
Mohsen was arrested three days before he was supposed
to go to trial. At the time of Amr Mohsen's arrest,
he was in possession of a newly issued Egyptian
passport in violation of his bail agreement and
$20,000 cash. Mr. Mohsen had been overheard making
flight reservations for the Cayman Islands.
After Amr Mohsen was arrested for contempt, he was
ordered detained and placed in custody in an Alameda
County detention facility (Santa Rita jail) pending
trial. According to a search warrant affidavit
unsealed today and the superseding indictment, Mr.
Mohsen solicited new criminal activity while housed in
the Santa Rita jail. Specifically, it is alleged that
Amr Mohsen solicited the murder of the federal judge,
Hon. William H. Alsup, who had been presiding over his
criminal case; that Mr. Mohsen sought to intimidate a
trial witness by commissioning the arson of that trial
witness' car; and that Mr. Mohsen attempted to
intimidate other trial witnesses with threatening
phone calls warning them not to show up for trial or
they will "come up missing."
According to the search warrant affidavit, Mr. Mohsen
contracted with an informant, who, with the FBI's
assistance, listened to conversations with Mr. Mohsen.
Mr. Mohsen solicited the informant's assistance in
committing a series of criminal acts while he was in
jail. According to the affidavit, Mr. Mohsen's
criminal activity from Santa Rita jail culminated with
Mr. Mohsen's solicitation of the murder of Judge Alsup
during the weekend of June 12-13, 2004. The affidavit
alleges that Mr. Mohsen approached an informant and
stated that he desired to make the Federal Judge in
his criminal case "disappear" so he will be "never
found." According to the affidavit, Mr. Mohsen
confirmed that he meant he wanted a "funeral" for the
judge. Mr. Mohsen allegedly told the informant that
once the Judge was gone, "everything will go my way."
The search warrant affidavit alleges that Mr. Mohsen
and the informant discussed the possible methods by
which the murder of Judge Alsup could be accomplished,
including a gas leak, to which Mohsen replied "which
is least traceable?" Mr. Mohsen negotiated with the
informant over the price for murdering Judge Alsup.
According to the affidavit, Mr. Mohsen was told that
the murder of a Federal Judge was a big deal and would
cost $25,000. After hearing that price, Mohsen
allegedly stated: "That's very high...I heard it's
more like ten [$10,000]."
In addition to soliciting the murder of the judge set
to hear his trial, Mr. Mohsen identified five trial
witnesses by name and gave their home phone numbers to
the informant. He asked the informant to burn down
the home of one witness and to stage a break-in to the
car of another while leaving a threatening note. Mr.
Mohsen later changed his mind about burning the
witness' home and instead commissioned the arson of
that witness' car in order to frighten the witness and
dissuade the witness from testifying at the trial.
The second defendant, Aly Mohsen, is a medical doctor
who owns shares of Aptix. He is charged with
obstruction of justice, conspiracy to obstruct justice
and perjury based on his participation in the creation
of the fabricated notebook and false statements that
he made about them as a witness in trial.
The maximum statutory penalty for each count in
violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 373, one half of the
maximum penalty for the crime solicited and a fine of
$250,000. The maximum statutory penalty for a
violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 1512 is ten years
imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. 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.
Amr and Aly Mohsen's next scheduled appearance is at
10:30 a.m. on August 4, 2004, before District Judge
Phyllis Hamilton, who was assigned this case following
Judge Alsup's recusal.
The prosecution is the result of a two year
investigation by agents of the FBI. Robin Harris is
the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the
A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S.
Attorney's Office's website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/can.
Related court documents and information may be found
on the District Court website at www.cand.uscourts.gov
or on http://pacer.cand.uscourts/gov.
All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney's Office
should be directed to Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew
J. Jacobs at (415)436-7181 or Criminal Chief Ross
Nadel at (415)436-6778.
UPDATE. Oct. 10, 2004.
In a recycling of old news, we have from the American Lawyer:
Faked Evidence Turns Patent Case Ugly -- Really Ugly
The American Lawyer
When Amr Mohsen's company brought a patent infringement suit six years ago, he was backed by an A-team of lawyers. The case progressed into a disturbing dispute with mysteriously disappearing documents, a dramatic last-minute withdrawal by counsel, and Mohsen allegedly soliciting the murder of federal Judge William Alsup in California. Within this bizarre case is also a tale of hard-nosed, combative advocacy blinding lawyers to the consequences of their client's actions.