Category Archives: bribery

“Menendez Ally Pleads Guilty in Bribery Case and Agrees to Cooperate”


Jose Uribe, a former New Jersey insurance broker charged in what prosecutors have described as a broad bribery scheme involving Senator Robert Menendez, pleaded guilty on Friday in Manhattan.

Mr. Uribe had been accused of providing Nadine Menendez, the senator’s wife, with a Mercedes-Benz in exchange for Mr. Menendez’s efforts to intercede in an insurance fraud investigation in New Jersey.

As part of his guilty plea, Mr. Uribe also agreed to cooperate fully with prosecutors in their investigation, according to a formal plea agreement signed by Mr. Uribe, his lawyer and prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York….

The car, according to prosecutors, was one of the first bribes provided for the benefit of the senator and Ms. Menendez during a yearslong conspiracy. They have also been accused in three successive indictments with accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars and bars of gold bullion in exchange for the senator’s willingness to provide political favors and to help the governments of Egypt and Qatar.

The Mercedes replaced a vehicle that police records show Ms. Menendez was driving in December 2018 when she struck and killed a pedestrian, Richard Koop, in Bogota, N.J. Ms. Menendez, who married Mr. Menendez in 2020, was dating the senator at the time of the crash.

She was not tested for drugs or alcohol and was not charged with wrongdoing.

Share this:

Yale Law Journal Forum Collection: State and Local Corruption After Percoco and Ciminelli

This looks like it will be very useful:


What Are Federal Corruption Prosecutions for?

Lauren M. Ouziel

This Essay considers the role of prosecutors in the Supreme Court’s decades-long contraction of public corruption law. It examines how federal prosecutors’ reliance on broad theories of liability has paradoxically narrowed federal criminal law’s reach over public corruption, and considers how prosec…


Demoralizing Elite Fraud

Zephyr Teachout

The Supreme Court’s effort to avoid interpreting morally weighted terms like “fraud” and “honest services” has led it to make bad and confusing law in wire-fraud cases. These cases, unlike Citizens United and its ilk, are unanimous, joining liberal and conservative Justices, reflecting a shared skep…


The Stakes of the Supreme Court’s Pro-Corruption Rulings in the Age of Trump: Why the Supreme Court Should Have Taken Judicial Notice of the Post-January 6 Reality in Percoco

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy

In Percoco, the Supreme Court squandered opportunities to contextualize political corruption. This Essay argues that the Supreme Court should have taken judicial notice of the post-January 6 circumstances which surround the decision. This is a perilous time in American democracy for the Justices to …


Navigating Between “Politics as Usual” and Sacks of Cash

Daniel C. Richman

Like other recent corruption reversals, Percoco was less about statutory text than what the Court deems “normal” politics. As prosecutors take the Court’s suggestions of alternative theories and use a statute it has largely ignored, the Court will have to reconcile its fears of partisan targeting an…

Share this:

“‘Betrayal’: Arizona GOP Chair Jeff DeWit resigns after recording of ‘offer’ to Kari Lake”

Arizona Republic:

Jeff DeWit, a former Arizona treasurer and Trump adviser, resigned as chair of the state GOP on Wednesday following the release of an audio recording in which he offered Kari Lake a lucrative job if she quits her U.S. Senate race.

In a written statement, DeWit said Lake’s team had threatened him with the potential release of a “new, more damaging recording” unless he resigned immediately.

“I am truly unsure of its contents, but considering our numerous past open conversations as friends, I have decided not to take the risk,” he wrote. He added that he hopes she stops attacking him so he can return to the business world, “a field I find much more logical and prefer over politics.”

In a live video on web-hosting platform Rumble on Wednesday evening, Lake criticized DeWit’s remarks as well as his resignation letter for not including an apology to Arizonans.

“This is one of the worst things I’ve ever heard,” Lake said of the recording she made. “It was so corrupt.”…

Lake, who lost the 2022 governor’s race to Democrat Katie Hobbs, apparently leaked the recording to the Daily Mail, which was the first news outlet to publish it. DeWit tells Lake in the recording that “powerful people” don’t want her to run for Senate and asked her to consider taking their suggestion for a job and a two-year “pause.”

“I’ll tell you what I’m offering you,” DeWit told her, saying there would be companies that could put her on the payroll. He repeatedly told her not to tell anyone about the conversation.

“I can’t be bought,” Lake responded.

“C’mon,” DeWit urged her.

Share this:

“The FirstEnergy scandal shows everything that could go wrong with companies’ political spending in 2024”

Allison Herren Lee and Bruce Freed oped in Forbes:

When the Cleveland Browns removed the scandal-tarnished name of FirstEnergy from their football stadium, it symbolized how far the Ohio utility’s good reputation had fallen. The name change followed guilty verdicts returned for Ohio’s former House speaker and former GOP state chair in a bribery-and-racketeering scheme fueled with almost $61 million from FirstEnergy. The company has admitted that it bribed state officials and relied on untraceable dark money to do it, in seeking a bailout for two failing nuclear plants.

FirstEnergy is the poster child of the risks and harms a company faces from failing to oversee and monitor its political spending. But corruption charges are infrequent; in today’s hyperpolarized climate, more companies run into problems when their political spending winds up in perceived conflict with their public stances. Just ask the blue-chip companies recently facing controversy over money funneled to legislators who upheld an abortion ban in North Carolina.

Corporations increasingly face risk from their political spending, and that risk is heightened when they have not charted where funds will actually go. When political spending is funneled through “dark money” groups used by candidates and officeholders or through third-party groups such as trade organizations or non-profit partisan groups, corporations (and their shareholders) often don’t know how their money will actually be spent. When discovered and spotlighted, such contributions can ultimately associate a company with controversial political figures, positions contrary to core company values and interests, or corruption.

There are proactive steps companies can and should take to mitigate the risk….

Share this:

Daniel Richman on Percoco

The abstract of “Percoco v. United States – Navigating Between ‘Politics As Usual’ and Sacks of Cash,” on SSRN and forthcoming in Yale L.J. Forum:

In Percoco v. United States, as in other recent cases, the Court’s interest in avoiding prosecution of “normal politics” led it to deploy broad rationales that could threaten cases against far more egregious conduct. Because, even as it reverses convictions, the Court itself suggests alternative means of pursuing the underlying conduct and lower courts – far more engaged with the facts of actual cases – are often quite ready to follow the government’s lead through the thicket of available statutes, it is far from clear that corruption prosecutions have been seriously impeded. But the Court’s message of restraint remains potent, and its consequences remain to be seen.

Share this:

“Supreme Court overturns public-corruption conviction of Cuomo aide”


The Supreme Court on Thursday overturned the 2018 conviction of a former aide to New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D), once again expressing skepticism of the ways federal prosecutors combat public corruption and influence peddling.

The justices took the case to determine whether Joseph Percoco could be convicted of depriving the public of his “honest services” given thathe was working for Cuomo’s reelection campaign — rather than in his former role as an aide to the governor — when he accepted $35,000 in payments from a construction company.

Percoco made calls to state officials on the company’s behalf just before returning to government employment.

He was convicted on instructions “that required the jury to determine whether he had a ‘special relationship’ with the government and had ‘dominated and controlled’ government business,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for his unanimous colleagues.

“We conclude that this is not the proper test for determining whether a private person may be convicted of honest-services fraud.”

In a separate case, the court was also unanimous in overturning the conviction of business executive Louis Ciminelli and others who won a $750 million development contract as part of Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion revitalization project.

Share this:

“Ex-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, former Ohio GOP leader Matt Borges found guilty”

Columbus Dispatch:

A federal jury found both former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and ex-Ohio Republican Party chairman Matt Borges guilty of racketeering conspiracy Thursday – a dramatic outcome in the biggest public corruption case in state history. 

The guilty verdict marks the end of Householder’s long political career in which he twice held the speaker’s gavel. He’ll be in the Ohio history books as the only speaker expelled from the Legislature and then convicted in a federal corruption case. …

Share this:

“Corruption Charges Dismissed Against Ex-Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin”

New York Times:

A federal judge in Manhattan dismissed bribery charges against former Lt. Gov. Brian A. Benjamin of New York on Monday, saying prosecutors had not demonstrated an explicit quid pro quo in what they asserted was a scheme to funnel $50,000 in state money to a developer in exchange for campaign contributions.

In a 38-page opinion, the judge, J. Paul Oetken of Federal District Court, said that the government had a higher burden when accusing politicians like Mr. Benjamin of exchanging favors for political donations, rather than personal benefit. In Mr. Benjamin’s case, he concluded that prosecutors fell short, failing to show that the favor trading had been “clear and unambiguous” and mutually understood.

You can see the opinion in United States v. Benjamin here.

Share this:

“What a New Supreme Court Review May Mean for Albany’s Culture of Graft”

NYT: “[I]in key rulings in the past dozen years, the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed the law governing corruption, resulting in the overturning of the convictions of at least three prominent former New York lawmakers. And with the court’s announcement June 30 that it would review the high-profile 2018 convictions of two men closely identified with former Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration, legal experts say the justices may be ready to further limit what constitutes graft — and therefore what’s illegal in New York’s capital.”

Share this:

“Permissible political influence or impermissible bribery? Cert. petition in Roberson v. U.S. raises that question”

Ron Collins:

The case is Roberson v. United States, a case that may well find its way to the “cert. granted” side of the docket. The issues raised in the case are:

  1. Whether, in a bribery prosecution based on issue-advocacy payments that would otherwise enjoy First Amendment protection, the government must prove that the payments were explicitly linked to official action.
  2. Whether a jury must be instructed that merely “expressing support” for a policy cannot support a conviction under the federal bribery laws.

Here’s the quote I gave Ron about the case: “Roberson looks to be just the kind of case that could interest the Justices, involving the line between political influence permissible under the First Amendment and impermissible bribery. Bribery laws stand likely to be further weakened on First Amendment grounds if the Court agrees to hear this case.”

Share this:

“Supreme Court’s Bridgegate Ruling Casts Shadow on Federal Fraud Cases”


A Supreme Court decision that threw out the fraud convictions of two political aides to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is rippling through other white-collar cases, possibly buttressing appeals by other defendants who say federal prosecutors have become too aggressive in using antifraud laws to go after dishonest conduct.

In the New Jersey scandal known as Bridgegate, the high court ruled last year that a political-retribution scheme that involved crippling a town with traffic jams didn’t constitute federal fraud. The decision already has prompted the reversal of most charges in a high-profile insider-trading case, and could hurt prosecutors’ efforts to preserve convictions in a case that exposed ethical failures at one of the Big Four accounting firms.

At issue in both cases is when underhanded conduct may be considered criminal fraud. The Supreme Court affirmed in the New Jersey case that federal fraud charges apply only when a scheme seeks to obtain money or property by deceptive means.

In the insider-trading case, Manhattan federal prosecutors said on April 2 that because of the New Jersey case, most of the charges should be wiped out. They recommended to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that the entire case against Christopher Worrall, one of the defendants, be dismissed. Mr. Worrall, a former technical adviser at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was accused of sharing secrets about government-funding levels with a consultant working for a hedge fund.

In the same case, prosecutors also agreed to toss out insider-trading and theft charges against two hedge-fund traders and David Blaszczak, the political-intelligence consultant whom they allege passed on the information from Mr. Worrall.

Share this:

“Elegy for Anti-corruption Law: How the Bridgegate Case Could Crush Corruption Prosecutions and Boost Liars”

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy has posted this draft on SSRN (forthcoming, American University Law Review). Here is the abstract:

This piece discusses how the case Kelly v. United States, which was pending before the Supreme Court when this piece was written, was likely to expand two different developments in the Roberts Court’s jurisprudence: (1) expanding the constitutional protections for lying under the First Amendment and (2) narrowing the definition of corruption. This Piece describes how lower courts ruled in the Kelly case as well as arguments deployed by Kelly’s lawyers at the Supreme Court to try to exonerate their client Bridget Anne Kelly for her role in the Bridgegate scandal.

Epilogue: As this piece was being printed, the Supreme Court decided Kelly v. United States, 590 U. S. ____ , No. 18-1059 (U.S. May. 7, 2020). As predicted by the piece, the Supreme Court in Kelly expanded the Skilling case and narrowed what counts as corruption concluding “not every corrupt act by state or local officials is a federal crime.”

Share this:

“South Philly judge of elections admits he took bribes to stuff the ballot box for Democratic candidates”

Philly Inquirer:

A former judge of elections and Democratic committeeperson from South Philadelphia has pleaded guilty to accepting $2,500 in bribes to inflate the vote totals for three Democratic candidates for Common Pleas Court judge in 2015 and also accepted money to add votes for other candidates, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced Thursday.

Domenick J. DeMuro, 73, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deprive Philadelphia voters of their civil rights by fraudulently stuffing the ballot boxes for the judicial candidates and for other candidates seeking office in the 2014 and 2016 primary elections. And he admitted violating the Travel Act, which forbids the use of a cell phone to promote illegal activity, McSwain’s office said.

DOJ Release.

Share this: