Baton Rouge Public Corruption Attorneys
Baton Rouge, LA 70810
(Meeting location by appointment only)
Our team of highly-respected defense attorneys and former U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) trial attorneys represents public officials, business owners, company executives, and other clients in Baton Rouge in federal cases involving allegations of public corruption, bribery, and conspiracy.
The United States’ federal public corruption and bribery statutes apply at all levels of government. From federal government officers to state and local politicians, any illegal transaction involving any public official has the potential to lead to fines, prison time, and irreparable damage to the official’s public reputation.
Of course, public officials who accept illegal payments are not the only ones who are at risk for prosecution. Business owners and company executives who offer bribes to public officials can be charged with federal crimes as well. In fact, even if a bribe is never actually paid, the public officials and private citizens on both sides of a contemplated transaction can be charged with conspiracy and still face life-altering penalties.
Experienced Federal Defense Attorneys Serving Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Oberheiden, P.C. is a team of defense attorneys who have centuries of combined experience and an extensive track record of securing favorable results in federal criminal cases. Unlike other firms, our team is comprised entirely of senior attorneys, and our clients work closely with our attorneys throughout the course of the engagement. Several of our attorneys are former federal prosecutors with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and our team also includes the only former federal trial judge who is currently in private practice.
We focus our practice on federal white-collar defense, with particular emphasis on representing public officials, business owners and executives, licensed professionals, and other high-profile clients. We do this because we understand what is at stake for these clients, and we are committed to using our deep knowledge and insights to help these clients secure favorable outcomes.
When you engage Oberheiden, P.C.’s federal defense team for your public corruption case in Baton Rouge, Louisiana:
- We will put a team of senior attorneys on your side. Our senior attorneys work as a team to maximize the strength of our representation.
- We will intervene in the investigation immediately. We will use our knowledge of the federal investigative process to intervene in the investigation immediately and determine what options are on the table.
- We will seek to secure a discrete out-of-court resolution. We will work diligently to resolve your case in your favor before charges get filed.
- We will make sure you are making informed decisions. Our attorneys will be in direct contact with you every step of the way so that you can make informed decisions about preserving your future.
- We will remain involved until your case is finally resolved. No matter what it takes, we will keep fighting for you until your case is fully and finally resolved.
Understanding Federal Public Corruption and Bribery Charges in the United States
What is Public Corruption?
The U.S. Code of Crimes and Criminal Procedure outlines three separate public corruption offenses: (i) receiving a bribe by a public official, (ii) receiving an illegal gratuity by a public official, and (iii) theft of government money or property.
1. Receiving a Bribe by a Public Official
Section 201(b)(2) of the U.S. Code of Crimes and Criminal Procedure (18 U.S.C. § 201(b)(2)) makes it a federal offense for any public official to accept a bribe in connection with his or her position in public office. The statute defines a public official as any, “Member of Congress, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner, either before or after such official has qualified, or an officer or employee or person acting for or on behalf of the United States, or any department, agency or branch of Government thereof, including the District of Columbia, in any official function, under or by authority of any such department, agency, or branch of Government, or a juror.” Under Section 201(b)(2):
“Whoever . . . being a public official or person selected to be a public official, directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for: (A) being influenced in the performance of any official act; (B) being influenced to commit or aid in committing, or to collude in, or allow, any fraud, or make opportunity for the commission of any fraud, on the United States; or (C) being induced to do or omit to do any act in violation of the official duty of such official or person; . . . shall be [guilty of public corruption].”
Officials found guilty under Section 201(b)(2) can face statutory fines or financial penalties equal to three times the monetary equivalent of the thing of value received (whichever is greater), up to 15 years of federal imprisonment, and disqualification from public service.
2. Receiving an Illegal Gratuity by a Public Official
Section 201(c)(1)(B) of the U.S. Code of Crimes and Criminal Procedure defines the federal offense of receiving an illegal gratuity. Similar to Section 201(b)(2), it applies to all public officials, and it covers both monetary and non-monetary forms of compensation:
“Whoever  otherwise than as provided by law for the proper discharge of official duty . . . (B) being a public official, former public official, or person selected to be a public official, otherwise than as provided by law for the proper discharge of official duty, directly or indirectly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally for or because of any official act performed or to be performed by such official or person; . . . [shall be guilty of public corruption].”
Penalties under Section 201(c)(1)(B) include statutory fines and up to two years of federal imprisonment.
3. Theft of Government Money or Property
In addition to facing charges for receiving improper payments from private citizens, public officials can also face corruption charges for making improper use of government funds. Under 18 U.S.C. Section 641:
“Whoever embezzles, steals, purloins, or knowingly converts to his use or the use of another, or without authority, sells, conveys or disposes of any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof, or any property made or being made under contract for the United States or any department or agency thereof; . . . [shall be guilty of public corruption].”
In cases involving $1,000 or more in value, penalties include statutory fines and up to 10 years of federal imprisonment. In cases involving less than $1,000 in value, the maximum prison sentence is one year.
What is Bribery?
The federal offense of bribery is defined in 18 U.S.C. Section 201(b)(1). Just as it is illegal for a public official to receive an improper payment, it is illegal for any private citizen to:
“[D]irectly or indirectly, corruptly give, offer or promise anything of value to any public official or person who has been selected to be a public official, or offer or promise any public official or any person who has been selected to be a public official to give anything of value to any other person or entity, with intent—(A) to influence any official act; or (B) to influence such public official or person who has been selected to be a public official to commit or aid in committing, or collude in, or allow, any fraud, or make opportunity for the commission of any fraud, on the United States; or (C) to induce such public official or such person who has been selected to be a public official to do or omit to do any act in violation of the lawful duty of such official or person . . . .”
The penalties for bribery are the same as those for receiving a bribe: statutory fines or financial penalties equal to three times the monetary equivalent of the thing of value received (whichever is greater) and up to 15 years of incarceration.
What is Conspiracy to Commit Bribery?
As you can see from the statutory language quoted above, in order to face conviction for public corruption or bribery under Section 201, it is not necessary to actually pay or accept a bribe. For public officials, demanding or seeking an improper payment is enough to establish criminal culpability, and for private citizens, it is enough to offer or promise a bribe.
However, under 18 U.S.C. Section 371, it takes even less to commit a federal crime. This is the federal conspiracy statute, and it imposes statutory fines and up to five years of imprisonment for anyone who “conspire[s] either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof.” Under 18 U.S.C. 371, any “overt act” – even an overt act short of offering or soliciting a bribe – can be enough to establish the offense; and, if one individual commits an overt act, all members of the alleged conspiracy can face the same potential penalties.
For an in-depth discussion of the federal conspiracy statute, you can read: What is a Federal Criminal Conspiracy?
Discuss Your Baton Rouge Public Corruption Case in Confidence
Due to the breadth of the federal public corruption and conspiracy statutes and the substantial risks involved with facing prosecution, individuals targeted in these investigations must seek experienced legal representation immediately. To discuss your public corruption case in Baton Rouge with a member of Oberheiden, P.C.’s federal defense team, call 214-692-2171 or contact us online now.