Theft Of Honest Services

July 12, 2007

News & Commentary

By ANDY THIBAULT
The Cool Justice Report
http://www.cooljustice.blogspot.com
July 12, 2007

EDITOR’S NOTE: This column is available for reprint courtesy of The Cool Justice Report, http://cooljustice.blogspot.com

When a public official betrays his duty for personal gain, he commits what the courts call “Theft Of Honest Services.”

Courts have consistently held that breaches of fiduciary duty are felonies. The courts treat any and all legal duties of public officials as “fiduciary.”

Sometimes this seems like a stretch. For example, mail fraud statutes have been used to bootstrap state crimes and violations of regulations into major felonies. By major, I mean felonies carrying 20 year sentences.

This political corruption prosecution strategy, however, works. Ask former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, sentenced to 6 ½ years in prison for crimes including steering contracts and taking free vacations from benefactors.

In another twist, Connecticut State Sen. Lou DeLuca was investigated by the federal government but processed in state court.

Bottom line: Investigators and prosecutors have become more creative in building corruption cases.

Often, when we see government corruption, the questions arise: What particular laws were broken? Where are the crimes?

Sometimes the answers are obvious. For example, a politician performs an official act and is compensated directly with a bribe or gift. Or, a politician performs an official act for personal gain as a trade of favors. In some cases, politicians grant official requests for their friends while denying similar requests to those who have no special connections.

In any case, sorting these matters out for prosecution is the job of investigators and prosecutors. Uncovering wrongdoing is also the job of responsible citizens, upstanding business people, honest officials and diligent reporters.

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One Response to “Theft Of Honest Services”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Would this be article be considered a Yes for the Enfield Poll?


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