Bribery and public corruption cases often make headlines when a police officer is under federal investigation for taking bribes from drug dealers or a judge solicits campaign contributions in exchange for favors. Bribery most often refers to bribery of public officials, such as the giving of money or something else of value in exchange for a decision or action that will benefit the person offering the bribe.
Bribery was recently in the national news when, in June of 2016, the highest-ranking U.S. Navy officer to be charged in a massive bribery-for-secrets case plead guilty in federal court to lying to investigators and destroying evidence. U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau, 55, of Burke, Virginia, had tried to hide his illicit years-long relationship with Leonard Glenn Francis, the owner of the Singapore-based defense contractor at the center of the scandal. The Rear Admiral destroyed documents and deleted computer files when he learned that Francis and others had been arrested for fraud and bribery in September 2013.
Types of Philadelphia Bribery
There are many different types of bribery including:
- Bribery of a public official – Such bribery charges are among the most common in Pennsylvania and across the country. Bribing public officials can include judges, politicians, police officers and many others. Public officials who actively request bribes also can be charged with this crime.
- Bribing a witness – This charge often goes hand in hand with other criminal charges. Specifically, a defendant on trial for a crime might bribe a witness in an attempt to convince the witness not to testify in court.
- Bank Bribery – This form of bribery often involves bribing a bank official to receive a loan. Bank officials that solicit bribes in exchange for special treatment can also be charged with bank bribery.
- Bribery in sporting contests – Anyone involved with fixing the outcome of a sporting event for monetary gain can be charged with bribery.
Federal Jurisdiction for Bribery Charges
Like many types of Philadelphia white collar crime, bribery can be either a state or federal offense depending on the circumstances. Federal authorities have jurisdiction over bribery charges under the following circumstances:
- Bribery of members of Congress
- Bribery of agents acting on behalf of the U.S. government
- Bribery of members of a federal grand jury
- Bribery of federal employees
- Bribery of a witness under oath in federal court
- Bribery of bank officials
- Bribery relating to a sporting event affecting interstate commerce
Bribery Penalties Under Federal Law
Bribery of a public official of the federal government, juror or witness carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and a fine up to three times the amount of the bribe. Bribery relating to a sporting event carries a penalty of up to five years in prison. Bribing a bank official carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million. A pattern of such financial bribery involving $5 million or more in gross receipts over two years may be deemed a continuing financial crime enterprise, carrying a penalty of 10 years to life in prison and a fine of $10 million for an individual and $20 million for an enterprise. Using the proceeds of a bribery scheme to purchase an interest in a business or engaging in a pattern of bribery may also conflict with the RICO Act, leading to additional criminal penalties.
An employee may be charged with commercial bribery if he or she agrees to award a contract or a bid, or to purchase products or services from a company in exchange for a personal benefit and contrary to the benefit of his/her employer. Commercial bribery can take the form of a kickback or a bribe. Commercial bribery is a crime under the laws of Pennsylvania and has been prosecuted in federal court under the mail and wire fraud statutes.
You can be found guilty of commercial bribery for advertising yourself as an impartial agent while actually soliciting or accepting a benefit that influences the selection of a company or product. It is common for the employee to also be charged with federal mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, and tax evasion, in cases involving commercial bribery brought in federal court.
Contact a Pennsylvania Bribery Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested or charged with bribery, in either federal or state court, it is important to speak to an experienced Philadelphia bribery defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact The Zeiger Firm today at (215) 546-0340 for a free consultation and let us help you.