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Public Corruption Prosecutions in the U.S. – An Overview of Cases Involving Forfeiture and Restitution Issues.

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Presentation on theme: "Public Corruption Prosecutions in the U.S. – An Overview of Cases Involving Forfeiture and Restitution Issues."— Presentation transcript:

1 Public Corruption Prosecutions in the U.S. – An Overview of Cases Involving Forfeiture and Restitution Issues

2 U.S. federal prosecutors prosecute crimes by gov’t officials at all levels Local officials like mayors and city or county commissioners and state prosecutors and police officers State officials like governors, members of state legislatures, state officials like election officials and cabinet officials like tax officials and state police officers

3 Federal officials –Federal judicial corruption –U.S. Congressmen and Senators or staff members –Federal contracting officers –Intelligence officials –Cabinet Secretaries –State Department officials involved in immigration visas

4 Statutes Used to Prosecute Official Corruption Bribery and honest services fraud Money laundering Conspiracy to commit federal crimes RICO – federal and state law predicates Income tax evasion and false returns False statements and omissions and False disclosures –Financial Disclosure statements –Campaign reports –False statements to investigators and to congress

5 Importance of Restitution and Forfeiture Tools Disgorge profits Deter Punish

6 For most corruption cases, the things of value given are small Trips--foreign and domestic Expensive watches Free home improvements Golf, meals and entertainment Cash – –direct payments –payments of mortgages and bills and sales at inflated values –payments to trusted courthouse employees –jobs for family members and friends Lobbyists contracts for family and friends “event coordinators” or public relations businesses –“consulting fees” for gov’t officials allowed to have outside income

7 Judicial corruption –Typically numerous small bribes Local police –Typically numerous small bribes or –Excessive force or other civil rights violations –Sexual misconduct Mayors and City officials –Typically small cash payments, improvements to houses, “little show” jobs

8 Federal judges, prosecutors or cabinet or agency officials –Relatively rare –False disclosures or conflicts of interest –Voucher fraud Other Federal officials –Contracting officers – future employment or family members employment Sometimes cash or having bills paid directly

9 Exceptions Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon U.S. Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham U.S. gov’t officials in Iraq involved in Iraq reconstruction contracts Some officials who sell national security information Narcotics-related corruption – –Criminal Law and immigration enforcement officers

10 Who investigates? Who prosecutes? By Department of Justice policy, Trial Attorneys who report to the Attorney General and the investigative agencies By Department of Justice policy, Special Counsel appointed by the Attorney General and the investigative agencies By statute, independent counsel appointed by the Court and the investigative agencies

11 Jack Abramoff

12 Following guilty plea of business partner Michael Scanlon, pleaded guilty in Washington, D.C. in Jan 2006 to –conspiracy to commit Honest services fraud and bribery Defrauding clients by mail and wires (phones and emails) Concealment –Defrauding clients Failing to disclose that he would recent 50 percent of profits of company he recommended to his clients to provide “grass roots services” –Tax evasion Unreported income and Improper deductions

13 Jack Abramoff Also pled guilty in Jan. 2006 in federal court in Miami, FL to bank fraud involving purchase of Sun Cruz Casino Sentenced in March 2006 to 60 months in prison Ordered to pay $19 million in restitution to the banks Surrender date continued while he cooperates

14 On charges pending in Washington, D.C. faces –prison of up to 91/2 to 11 years which will likely be served concurrently; –restitution payments to his clients of $25 million; –restitution to IRS of approx. $1.8 Million

15 How can the gov’t recover the $47 million from Abramoff? –Joint and several liability with co-conspirators –Non-dischargeable in bankruptcy –Can be collected at any time in his lifetime

16 Restitution For defrauding his clients - will be treated as restitution to client - victims who were defrauded administered by the court and probation For his corruption crimes – not ordered but not likely to be large as to any individual recipient

17 Effects of Abramoff and Scanlon Guilty Pleas so far

18 On-going criminal investigations –March 2006 Guilty Plea of Tony Rudy, former lobbyist and Deputy chief of staff of House Majority Whip Tom DeLay –U.S. V. Safavian, USDC Voluntary return of campaign contributions from Abramoff Amended FEC filings to report in-kind contributions and reimbursement of expenses for use of Abramoff’s luxury sports boxes for fundraisers





23 Cong. Randy “Duke” Cunningham from California –$2.43 million from 3 business operators seeking defense department contracts Huge profits on a house and a boat, a Rolls Royce, rugs, furniture, cash, meals, travel expenses, and more

24 Cunningham Forfeiture As part of his plea agreement –Pleaded guilty to tax evasion and bribery conspiracy –Agreed to cooperate in other corruption investigations and investigations of people he admitted publicly bribed him –Agreed to forfeit certain assets which are being sold public auctions or public sales


26 Was sentenced in March 2006 to 8 years and 4 months – prosecutors asked for 10 years –Defense argued prior war service, alcoholism and depression

27 Developments in the on-going Cunningham investigation so far Mitch Wade, one of the bribe payers, has plead guilty to bribery and is cooperating with federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C.

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