Bribery in New York
What is a bribery crime?
A bribe is where an individual offers or provides some remuneration or award in order to influence a person’s actions or position for that individual’s benefit.
Bribes occur all the time and not all bribes are illegal.
It is also illegal for prohibited persons to accept bribes.
New York law indicates that if a bribe is offered or received by the following individuals, it will be considered a crime.
- A public servant
- A public official
- A party officer
- A juror
- A witness
- A labor official
- A sports official
- Employees, agents, or other fiduciaries to act against their employer
In short, if you bribe an individual for a personal benefit due to that person’s position or authority, then you will most likely be committing a bribery crime.
Here are some ways that an individual will be committing a bribery crime in New York.
- An individual offers a police officer money to avoid arrest after the individual for was stopped for driving while intoxicated.
- An individual is offered shares in a corporation in exchange for a public zoning commissioner’s vote on a future proposal.
- A baseball pitcher to throw a game or to not blow the point spread is an individual bribe.
- An individual offers a bribe to a juror so that juror will vote in favor of a specific party.
- A judge accepts a bribe and vacates a judgment against a party.
- A witness accepts a bribe to not be present at a proceeding or to testify falsely.
- A quarterback says he will throw a game if the price is right.
There are not all the ways an individual can commit a bribery crime.
It is illegal to offer or provide any type of gift or award to prohibited individuals, and it is illegal to accept such bribes. If you or a loved one has been charged with a bribery crime, please call our offices today. Our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys are ready to help you!
What are the New York laws about bribes?
There are a number of New York laws that address bribes. Essentially, bribery crimes are broken up into two categories:
- Offering Bribes
- Receiving Bribes
It also defines the laws based on the individual being bribed or receiving the bribes. There is a lot of overlap with the bribery laws, and it is possible to be charged with multiple offenses for a single action. New York does not require that an individual is knowingly breaking the law.
If a person offers a prohibited bribe or an individual accepts a prohibited bribe regardless of knowledge of the law, that person can be charged with a bribery crime. Also, the law does not require that any remuneration exchanged hands. It is enough to offer or contract a bribe to be guilty of bribery crime.
The laws are grouped together with their bribe receiving counterpart
Bribery in the third degree, Bribe receiving in the third degree
When an individual offers a public servant a bribe to influence that public servant to provide some benefit to the offeror, and the value of the bribe is less than 5,000 dollars, it will be considered bribery in the third degree. This is a class D felony. For example, an individual offers to pay a public employee personally to forgive a parking ticket is bribery in the third degree.
Bribery in the second degree, Bribe receiving in the second degree
When an individual offers a public servant a bribe to influence that public servant to provide some benefit to the offeror, and the value of the bribe is more than 5,000 dollars, it will be considered bribery in the third degree. This is a class C felony. For example, an individual who offers 20,000 dollars of stock options in exchange for a public official’s vote in a future issue is bribery in the second degree.
Bribery in the first degree, Bribe receiving in the first degree
This law has two components. When an individual offers a public servant a bribe to influence that public servant to provide some benefit to the offeror, and the value of the bribe is more than 100,000 dollars, it will be considered bribery in the third degree.
Also, if a public servant is bribed to influence any process of an investigation, prosecution or sentencing of a class A felony, it will be considered bribery in the first degree. This is a class B felony.
For example, an individual offers money to police officers to destroy evidence related to a murder investigation is bribery in the first degree.
Bribe giving for public office, Bribe receiving for public office
When an individual offers or gives remuneration to a public servant or party officer in exchange for a specific appointment or nomination of a specific person to public office, it is bribe giving for public office. These are class D felonies.
For example, an individual offers a public official 10,000 dollars to cause a specific person to receive a public office.
Bribing a juror, Bribe receiving by a juror
When an individual offers remuneration to influence the juror’s vote, it is considered bribing a juror. These are class D felonies.
For example, making the statement to a seated juror “It will be financially beneficial for you if you vote this way” is bribing a juror.
Bribing a witness, Bribe receiving by a witness
When an individual offers any type of remuneration or award to cause the juror not to testify or provide false testimony is considered bribing a witness. These are class D felonies.
For example, an individual offers to convey real estate to the witness as long as the witness provides false testimony. This is bribing a witness.
Sports bribing, Sports bribe receiving
When an individual offers a sports participant to throw a game or not perform to the best of the athlete’s ability, it is considered sport’s bribing.
Also, if the offer is directed towards a sports official to influence the outcome of a game, it will also be considered sports are bribing. Sports bribing is a class D felony, whereas sports bribe receiving is a class E felony.
For example, paying a boxer to lose in the 3rd round will be sports bribing.
Commercial bribing in the second degree, Commercial bribing in the second degree
When an individual offers a bribe to the employee or agent of another employer in the hopes to influence that employee or agent that affect their employer’s affairs. These are class A misdemeanors.
For example, a local gym offers gym passes to agents of an exercise equipment supplier in exchange for discounts on purchases of the equipment and to induce future business. This is commercial bribing in the second degree.
Commercial bribing in the first degree, Commercial bribing in the first degree
When an individual offers a bribe to the employee or agent of another employer in the hopes to influence that employee or agent that affect their employer’s affairs, and the bribe is an excess of a 1,000 dollars or the economic damage to the employer is more than 250 dollars, it will be commercial bribing in the first degree. These are class E felonies.
For example, a cleaning company offers to pay 10,000 dollars to an agent of a competitor in exchange for the competitor’s secret formula.
Bribing a labor official, Bribe receiving by a labor official
When an individual offers remuneration to a labor official in exchange for the labor official’s influence in plans or other decisions, it is bribing a labor official. These are class D felonies.
For example, an OSHA official is bribed to ignore working conditions in a mine. This is bribing a labor official.
The law also provides some defenses for individuals that offer bribes. It specifically identifies those individuals who are bribing public servants because they are victimized by another’s criminal behavior, such as extortion. Most times the law states that these defenses are not available to those receiving the bribes.
New York has identified various areas and individuals in which it is illegal to offer or accept bribes.
What are related offenses to bribery crimes?
In the law, bribery of certain individuals, or those individuals accepting bribes, is highly discouraged. The previous section listed many of the statutes that govern bribes. However, there are many other laws that may be violated when bribing certain individuals.
Much of the federal law concerning bribery is very similar to the New York laws and has varying penalties. It identifies public officials, witnesses, and sports participants and officials as areas that bribery is prohibited. If that bribe included any interstate commerce, including electronic communication or transaction, then it violates both federal and state law.
There are also other New York laws that could be violated with bribery. For example, bribery of a witness, juror or sports official could result in witness, jury or sports tampering, respectively. Also, if a grand juror accepts a bribe, they could be charged with juror misconduct and unlawful disclosure.
Recent court decisions in New York concerning bribery crimes
In People v. Yu, the court ruled that an employee of the Criminal Justice Agency (CJA) was acting as a public servant when accepting bribes from an attorney and paralegal. Defendants Yu and Nunez bribed an employee of CJA in order to obtain new clients that were not insolvent.
It was against CJA’s policies to private referrals to an attorney and that the employee was acting outside the scope of his employment. A jury convicted Yu and Nunez of bribery. They appealed this decision. Yu and Nunez on appeal stated that it was incorrect for a CJA employee to be considered a public servant since he was not employed by a private business.
The court rejected this argument and stated that the CJA employee was a public servant since he was exercising functions normally reserved for public servants. This was further supported that before CJA managed this area, it was managed by the city’s Probation Department. The appeals court affirmed the judgment, and it was remitted for sentencing.
To read the case in full, please click here. Or copy and paste the link below. https://law.justia.com/cases/new-york/appellate-division-first-department/2018/3874-14-5424-7915.html
In People v. Snowden, the court decided that there was sufficient evidence to proceed with bribery charges. James Snowden was previously the Code Enforcement Officer for the Village of Monticello. He and the Mayor of the Village of Monticello proceeded to demolish a building that had asbestos. They did this without the approval of the Village Board of Trustees, and allegedly, the contractors provided a discounted demolition fee in exchange for future business with the Village of Monticello.
Snowden and the mayor were subsequently charged with multiple violations including bribery. Snowden moved to dismiss the case for legally insufficient evidence. He stated that he was not the Code Enforcement Officer at the time of demolishment and did not have a criminal history. The trial court dismissed the case for lack of legally sufficient evidence and also stated that the demolition was harmless. The government appealed this dismissal.
The appeals court disagreed with the trial court and stated that just because he was not the Code Enforcement Officer and lacked a criminal background should cause an automatic dismissal of bribery charges. Also, the demolition was not harmless since it allowed asbestos to be able to escape into the outside environment. Due to these factors, they reversed the trial court’s decision and denied the motion from Snowden to have the case dismissed.
If you would like to read the case in full, please click here. Or copy and paste the link below.
In Matter of Chambers, the court determined that a system of automatic disbarment of an attorney convicted under federal bribery law is valid. John Skylar Chambers arranged a scheme with a sergeant in the New York Police Department.
The sergeant would expedite gun licenses for Chambers while Chambers provided a range of remunerations. He was charged and subsequently convicted with violating multiple federal laws including bribery. Due to his conviction for these federal violations, Chambers was automatically disbarred from New York, even though he was not prosecuted under New York law.
Since he was only prosecuted under federal law, the court wanted to determine if this action was valid. The court stated that since the federal laws were significantly similar to the New York laws and that the automatic disbarment of Chambers was completely valid. Chambers also conceded this fact as well.
If you would like to read the case in full, please click here. Or copy and paste the link below.
Who investigates bribery crimes in New York?
Bribery crimes are investigated by the New York Police Department. If the crime involves federal violations, then the investigation could also involve the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It is likely that many bribery crimes could involve both departments with the prevalence of wireless communication.
What are the penalties for bribery crimes?
As discussed above, the penalties are far ranging for bribery crimes. They could range from a class A misdemeanor to a class B felony depending on the crime. Also, multiple laws could be violated in a single action which could compound penalties.
For a class A misdemeanor violation, such as commercial bribery in the second degree, it could result in a maximum of 1 year in prison with a 1,000 dollar fine. For a class B felony, such as bribery in the first degree, it could result in a 5,000 dollar fine and up to 7 years in prison.
The penalties for bribery crimes can vary significantly. They also could be compounded with multiple charges for the same action. Depending on the circumstance, someone could face up to 7 years in prison and a 5,000 dollar fine.
Are there other consequences?
As with any crime, there are many other consequences that can accompany a charge of bribery. First, the stigma of distrust is a common consequence of bribery charges. This could affect current and future employment. It could also affect individual transactions, such as loans and credit approvals.
The charges could have deleterious effects on your family and loved ones. The expenses incurred to defend the charges, plus time lost from work, could result in significant financial hurdles.
Also, as discussed above, it could result in automatic dismissal from certain professional positions.
Do I need an attorney?
Yes! Allegations and charges of bribery crimes can have a tremendous negative impact on you and those around you. To face these charges alone at any point can be disastrous.
Experienced and skilled legal counsel is strongly recommended if you have been charged with a bribery crime. We have law offices in your area, and our attorneys have the proper skills and experience to help you during this difficult time.