Two defendants have pleaded guilty for their role in a multi-million dollar scheme that involved manipulating the Amazon marketplace and ecosystem. In total six people have been charged for their part in the conspiracy, which prosecutors have said involved bribing Amazon employees and contractors to leak confidential information.
The team would then use this information and data to gain a competitive advantage on the Amazon marketplace. Joseph Nilsen, 32, and Kristen Leccese, 33, both from New York, entered their guilty pleas on Monday 16th of May at U.S. District Court in Seattle, both acknowledging that they had paid more than $100,000 in bribes from 2016 to 2020.
Another conspirator named Rohit Kadimisetty, was sentenced back in February to 10 months in prison and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine. Two other defendants, Ephraim Rosenberg, of New York, and Hadis Nuhanovic, of Acworth, Georgia, have a trial date set for October 2022. The sixth defendant, Nishad Kunju, of Hyderabad, India, has not been brought to the U.S. to face the criminal charges.
Bribing Amazon Employees Could Mean Lengthy Jail Time
In both of their plea agreements, Nilsen and Leccese admitted that they had conspired to pay bribes to obtain confidential Amazon business information. This information included the necessary data to get suspended third-party sellers and product listings reinstated on the Marketplace. As well as ways to circumvent Amazon restrictions on certain products and ways to manipulate customer reviews, among a number of other things that break Amazon Terms and conditions.
Nilsen and Leccese are scheduled for sentencing on Friday the 9th of September 2022 at the U.S. District Court in Seattle. Nilsen has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which can carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison; conspiracy to violate the Travel Act, which bars interstate or foreign travel in aid of racketeering and is punishable by up to five years in prison; and tax charges that can bring up to three years in prison.
Leccese has pleaded guilty to just the conspiracy to violate the Travel Act. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle agreed to recommend prison terms within guideline ranges for each.
We will keep you updated on any new information regarding this case and the sentencing of the conspirators.
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