Bribing Government Officials is Okay Under $5,000

The ABA recently noted a decision by the Seventh Circuit, ruling that since bribes paid to a Chicago zoning inspector didn’t reach a $5,000 threshold, he couldn’t be punished for taking them.

The federal bribery statute bars agents of federally funded entities from taking anything of value for influence “in connection with any business, transaction, or series of transactions … involving any thing of value of $5,000 or more.” According to the opinion by Judge William Bauer, the law is ambiguous on how to measure value, and federal appeals courts have adopted a variety of approaches.

Although the inspector produced certificates of occupancy for four houses, the government flopped on its production of evidence and the court was forced to rule that the value of the bribes was only $1,200—the amount of the bribes he received. Read the full story here.

(photo: Shutterstock: 86306050)

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