What are the Penalties for Public Corruption Under Federal Law?
Government officials, public employees, and private citizens can face steep penalties under federal public corruption laws. Here are nine real-life examples of recent cases targeting allegations of public corruption.
Public corruption allegations can take many forms, and government officials, public employees, and private citizens accused of engaging in corrupt schemes can face multiple severe penalties under federal law. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), other federal law enforcement agencies, and the federal courts all take cases of alleged public corruption extremely seriously, and individuals charged with corruption (and related crimes) must defend themselves by all means available.
At Oberheiden P.C., our defense team represents clients in public corruption investigations, grand jury proceedings, and criminal trials. We offer nationwide legal representation, and our team is comprised of career federal defense lawyers, former DOJ prosecutors, former U.S. Attorneys, and former high-ranking agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other agencies. If you are facing public corruption allegations, if you have been charged with public corruption under 18 U.S.C. § 201 or 18 U.S.C. § 641, or if you are concerned that you may be targeted in a federal public corruption investigation, you need to seek legal representation immediately.
Call 888-680-1745 now for a free and confidential consultation with one of our senior federal defense attorneys.
9 Recent Examples of Public Corruption Cases
What is at risk if you are being targeted for prosecution on federal public corruption charges? As the following recent cases show, your public office or business, your finances, and your personal freedom could all be on the line:
1. U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Attorney Admits to Selling Department Files in an Attempt to Build a Private Practice
A former U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney in Washington D.C. pleaded guilty to corruption charges in March 2018 following allegations that he sold department records to criminal defendants and attempted to sell information to companies that were the subjects of ongoing federal investigations. According to the plea agreement, the attorney admitted to selling dozens of sealed DOJ files to outside companies.
The attorney also admitted that he was planning on leaving the DOJ to go into private practice, and that his intention was to develop a personal relationship with these companies in order to increase his future business. As a result of pleading guilty to the scheme, the attorney was sentenced to two and a half years in prison on two counts of obstructing justice.
2. Government Consultant Indicted for Fraudulent Invoicing Scheme
A former consultant to the District of Columbia Department of Human Resources (DCHR) was indicted for his role in a federal corruption scheme involving fraudulent payments. According to the indictment, the consultant submitted fraudulent invoices to DCHR for work that was never done. He then kept the money DCHR paid instead of depositing it with his company. The contractor allegedly pocketed more than $1.1 million as a result of the scheme.
In an attempt to cover up his scheme, the consultant also allegedly paid $140,000 in bribes to the employee at DCHR who wrote the checks to pay the fraudulent invoices. The bribe money was allegedly intended to ensure that the employee did not report the amount that DCHR was paying the contractor to higher-ups within the department.
3. Management Analyst Sentenced to 56 Months in Prison for Processing Fraudulent Payments
A former management analyst for the District of Columbia State Superintendent of Education pleaded guilty for her role in a public corruption scheme. According to the plea agreement, the analyst accepted bribes in exchange for falsifying payment records. The analyst admitted receiving almost $45,000 from an outside company in exchange for processing payments totaling almost $500,000 for services that had never been performed. The analyst admitted to knowing the services had never been performed was sentenced to 56 months in prison on two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery.
4. Education Facility Owner Pleas Guilty to Bribing VA Official
The owner of an education facility pleaded guilty to bribing a public official at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in Washington D.C. According to the plea agreement, the owner set up an education facility to provide vocational services to disabled veterans after learning the facility could receiving funding from the federal government.
However, the owner never received federal accreditation for her facility, and instead paid bribes to a VA official in exchange for the official issuing payment as if her facility was providing services to veterans. As a result of the scheme, the owner received $83,000 in fraudulent payments. The owner pleaded guilty to one count of bribing a public official and was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
5. Administrative Employee Charged with Stealing Public Funds
A man working for Point Coupee Parish in Louisiana was arrested in connection with an alleged fraud scheme targeting public funds. According to the charging documents, the man was an account clerk for Point Coupee Parish and is alleged to have stolen more than $6,000 by accessing the parish’s account containing money from paid traffic tickets through its computer system. To cover his tracks, the employee would allegedly delete transactions in the computer system in order to try to make it appear as though the money was properly accounted for. He was charged with felony theft, malfeasance in office, and computer fraud.
6. Mayor Pleads Guilty to Misappropriating Public Funds for Personal Use
A former mayor in Louisiana pleaded guilty for her role in public corruption scheme that resulted in the misappropriation of public funds. According to the plea agreement, the former mayor public funds to cover her own personal expenses. In an attempt to conceal her illegal diversion of these funds, the former mayor falsified public records to make it look like it the money was used to cover business expenses related to her duties as mayor. As a result of the plea agreement, the former mayor was convicted of two counts of malfeasance in office. The former mayor will not serve any prison time but was placed on probation and will be required to pay restitution to the town in the amount of money she originally took.
7. Another Mayor Pleads Guilty to Misappropriating Public Funds for Personal Use
Another former mayor in Louisiana was arrested on charges public corruption stemming from allegations that he misused public funds while in office. According to the allegations, the former mayor also served as an assistant fire chief and was in charge of the fire department’s financial accounts. He allegedly abused his signatory authority to withdraw funds from the fire department’s bank account to use for personal expenses. The former mayor is also alleged to have a taken a credit card out under the fire department’s operating account and using the card to cover personal expenses.
8. Public Official Indicted for Allegedly Bribing Political Candidate to End Campaign
A former parish president in Louisiana was indicted on charges of public corruption based on his alleged involvement in a scheme to bribe a city council candidate to drop out of the city council race. In exchange for the city council candidate dropping out of the race, the former parish president allegedly paid the candidate cash and offered him political favors.
9. State Official Accused of Diverting Federal Grant Funds for Personal Use
A former state official in Louisiana has been charged in relation to his allege involvement in a public corruption scheme targeting federal grant funds. According to charging documents, the official is accused misappropriating federal grant funds awarded to the Louisiana Department of Health and diverting the funds to his personal business. Based on these allegations, the former state official is being charged with public bribery, malfeasance in office, theft, and money laundering.
Allegations of Public Corruption Can Lead to Multiple Federal Charges
As you can see from these examples, in cases involving allegations of public corruption, prosecutors will often pursue charges for multiple related crimes as well. Along with public corruption charges under 18 U.S.C. § 201 or 18 U.S.C. § 641, potential additional charges in federal cases include:
- Theft of Government Property
- Computer Fraud
- Money Laundering
- Mail and Wire Fraud
- False Claims Act Violations
- Anti-Kickback Statute Violations
- Conspiracy to Commit Bribery or Crimes
With even a single count under 18 U.S.C. § 201 carrying a potential 15-year prison sentence, it is not hyperbole to state that individuals targeted in public corruption investigations truly have everything to lose. If you are being targeted – or if you think you may be at risk of being targeted – you need to defend yourself, and this starts with engaging a federal defense team. At Oberheiden P.C., our defense attorneys, former federal prosecutors, and former federal agents have the background, experience, and resources needed to fight the government’s allegations effectively. To find out what defenses you have available, contact us for a complimentary case assessment. We are available 24/7.
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Are you at risk for being indicted on federal public corruption charges? To speak with a member of Oberheiden P.C.’s federal defense team in confidence, call 888-680-1745 or tell us how to reach you online now.
Dr. Nick Oberheiden, founder of Oberheiden P.C., focuses his litigation practice on white-collar criminal defense, government investigations, SEC & FCPA enforcement, and commercial litigation.