LOS ANGELES, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- An undercover FBI agent used public dollars to pay for prostitutes in the Philippines during an undercover operation, a federal judge in Los Angeles heard.
A Filipino identified as Syjuco testified about FBI agent Charles Ro as part of a defense motion seeking to dismiss criminal charges against the defendants, saying Ro committed "outrageous government misconduct," the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
Deputy Federal Public Defender John Littrell, representing Syjuco, accused Ro of using public funds to pay for prostitutes for the defendants to lure them to participate in a weapons trafficking scheme. The prostitutes may have included minors, Littrell said.
Syjuco, Cesar Ubaldo and Filipino customs official Arjyl Revereza are charged with smuggling assault rifles, and grenade and mortar launchers from the Philippines to California in June 2011. The three pleaded not guilty.
"[The] government's actions in this case, if committed by a private citizen, would be serious federal crimes," Littrell said in court documents.
Government attorneys and Ro have disputed the claims. Prosecutors were expected to present their rebuttal Friday, the Times said.
However, prosecutors have said in court filings the government reimbursed Ro for $14,500 for entertainment, cocktails and tips over a period of less than a year in 2010 and 2011 in the case, the Times said.
In a sworn declaration, Ro, who was undercover representing himself as an arms broker for Mexican drug cartels, said he met with the suspects several times at two karaoke clubs in the Philippines.
During his testimony Thursday Syjuco said it is common knowledge that the clubs they visited offered prostitution.
Prosecutors said Thursday Ro used the clubs as meeting places to discuss weapons deals.