Bribery charges and public corruption charges are extremely serious. If someone is charged and convicted of one of these crimes, it is likely they will face some harsh punishments, potentially even jail time. Getting involved in a corruption charge can also have very long-lasting and harmful effects on someone’s professional career. Should someone be convicted of such a crime, it reflects very poorly on that person and will mean that future employers will take that conviction into careful consideration.
To learn more about bribery and/or public corruption charges and investigations, speak with a DC federal public corruption and bribery lawyer.
The FBI is very involved in investigating DC bribery cases. In addition, if the case involves a specific government agency, such as Fannie Mae, then that particular agency’s office of inspector general is often involved. It is unlikely that DC state agencies and law enforcement are involved in a federal bribery investigation. However, the District of Columbia is specifically included under the federal statute. A DC agency or the DC police might be involved in an investigation initially. Federal charges in federal court must involve federal law enforcement.
Sometimes the IRS becomes involved because there are potential tax implications for a person who is accused of receiving a bribe. If they did not declare that income on their taxes, there could potentially be a tax evasion charge along with the bribery charge. If government contractors are involved, the Department of Labor becomes involved because they have a lot of oversight over government contracts that involve people working as employees for the federal government.
Federal bribery cases involve the FBI and the Inspector General of any particular agency. Every agency has an Inspector General who does internal audits and investigations. The local US Attorney’s Office under the Department of Justice is involved because they prosecute these federal investigations. Sometimes investigators from the Department of Treasury, the FCC, and the IRS can be involved in a bribery case. It depends on what agency is involved and the events surrounding the bribery. The FBI is the main investigative body for bribery cases because it is the equivalent of the federal police.
Bribery cases are usually investigated before an arrest is made. It is extremely rare to have someone caught by police red-handed at the moment of accepting or giving a bribe, unlike someone being arrested who has a gun or drugs on them. That investigation occurs immediately. The person is arrested right away and the police may do a follow-up investigation with search warrants to the person’s car or house.
In a bribery situation, almost all of the investigation happens before the arrest is made because the investigation establishes that the offense occurred unless someone is caught red-handed.
Bribery investigations are a high priority, particularly in Washington DC. These investigations are top priority for the United States Attorney’s Office in DC and have been for many years. Government prosecutors have many resources and they put a great deal of time and effort into these investigations. While local law enforcement officials and agencies may participate in investigations, is not the usual way that federal bribery cases are brought to light.
However, it can happen because Washington, DC is somewhat unique since there are many government agencies here. Sometimes local law enforcement officers are attached to a task force that involves several agencies, but typically local law enforcement, for example, the Metropolitan Police Department, does not conduct federal bribery investigations.
The tactics and tools used in a federal bribery and public corruption investigation are very similar to those used in other white-collar cases. Tactics that are used in regular, “street crime” cases are people-driven cases, not paper-driven cases. For those people-driven cases, there are many witness interviews conducted. Sometimes cooperating witnesses are used and often equipped with recording devices. On a spectrum of cases, they are less white-collar in nature in terms of the investigative techniques used.
With bribery cases, investigators follow the money. They look at bank accounts, subpoena bank records, try to get access to e-mails, and use various types of electronic intercepts such as wiretaps or other sorts of surveillance depending on the nature of the case. In contrast to speaking with people and conducting a plethora of interviews, bribery and corruption investigations in DC are focused on the paper-trail.
Bribery and public corruption investigations in Washington, DC are usually long-term and can take years. They also often involve sophisticated law enforcement techniques like the use of wire taps and recorded phone conversations in addition to subpoenas to obtain bank records, phone records, and other types of records such as government contracts.
Sometimes, the investigations involve informants or the use of people who are cooperating witnesses and sometimes wear a wire or allow their phones to be recorded. These investigations are extensive and involve many people and lots of resources.
As a local DC bribery and public corruption case example, the Vincent Gray investigation is going into its fifth year. It takes a very long time to identify all the players and alleged transactions. Sometimes, during a bribery investigation, investigators initially look at one issue, which then leads to discovery of other issues. They discover other things and the investigation turns in a different direction, making it a much longer process. There is so much evidence to gather, which is why these investigations often last for years and years.
When investigating bribery cases in DC, agents look for a paper trail. In other words, they look for evidence that can be found in bank records, a record of a stock transaction, or an email. That evidence demonstrates what occurred and how the money or things of value changed hands. Prosecutors will seek to prove a person’s intent through the use of these records.
In public corruption cases, the government must prove that that person was corrupt or had a bad intention for doing what they did. The government’s investigative efforts are often devoted to determining the intent of the person, which is why they are looking for records, and they subpoena many documents.
In recent years, they have moved into using wiretaps for getting phone calls recorded because has proven to be a fruitful method of obtaining evidence about someone’s intent.