Bribery and Public Corruption
A federal law prohibiting bribery is covered under 18 U.S.C. § 666 which makes it illegal for any agent of a political organization to solicit or demand anything worth more than $5,000 bribery with the intent to be influenced or as a reward. Bribery charges are commonly associated with cases involving political corruption and payments to a public official in exchange for some benefit. Commonly referred to as a “kickback”, bribery occurs when a politician takes an action to benefit the person making the payment. It applies to any political entity, state or local, that receives federal money.
Another federal statute that covers bribery is the fraud statute 18 U.S.C. § 1346 which makes it a crime to use the mail or wire to defraud another person of the intangible right of “honest services”. Honest services fraud occurs when a public official uses his or her office for personal gain because that that official deprives their constituents of their right to have the official perform their official duties in their best interest. Illicit gain by a government official deprives the public of its intangible right to the honest services of the official. Because elected officials generally owe a fiduciary duty to the public, when a public official accepts a bribe or personally benefits from an undisclosed conflict of interest, that official has defrauded the public of his or her honest services.
The bribery laws apply to any person who represents the government, such as an elected official, or an employee of the government. However, bribery charges can also apply to any agency of a government or to non-political organization that receives federal money or assistance. Federal bribery charges can also be brought against private citizens who have a contract with the government in excess of $10,000 per year or received over $10,000 in federal benefits.
Haas Law has experience handling very complex bribery cases. If you or someone you know has been charged with bribery, please contact Orlando Federal crime attorney David Haas at 407-755-7675 to schedule an initial consultation.