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What's My Exposure to Bribery and Wire Fraud Investigations

"The company I work with has been 'entertaining' local public officials for years. My boss wants me to reach out to the local procurement officials to deliver an envelope with Falcons tickets, should I be concerned?"

Yes, you should be very concerned if anyone wants you to deliver “things of value” to a state or local official. The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI currently have numerous far-reaching investigations into bribery and wire fraud involving the City of Atlanta and other jurisdictions throughout the southeast. These types of investigations are often started when a government official is provided with great football tickets, a trip to Las Vegas, or envelopes of cash. When the FBI investigates these matters they often get cooperators to secretly record phone calls and meetings with people who have been “entertaining” them. Often, they will solicit even bigger things from the contractors that they have been doing business with, in an effort to assist the authorities (and to get a better plea deal themselves). The Government may have made plea deals with county officials that require them to make calls and set up meetings to trap others in the same web. These “pay to play” schemes may involve sales commissions, rebates, shared incentive bonuses, kickbacks, or other demands for payment by the officials.

If you work for a corporation that has been making payments to city or county officials, and has been soliciting business from those same officials, you should have serious concerns about whether you have potential criminal exposure. Conspiracy to commit bribery carries a ten-year sentence and, depending on the size of the alleged bribes and the contracts, sentences of five to eight years are not uncommon. Part of the difficulty in these cases is often the huge number of communications between the officials and the contractors in the form of emails, text messages, and other digital communications platforms, such as WhatsApp, GoogleVoice, Skype and others. There may be thousands of such communications – many of which may relate to issues that show intent, a central issue in these cases. The government has the burden of proving that the “things of value” were either solicited or offered with the “intent to influence or reward” the government official. With most businessmen relying on electronic communication to deal with clients, they often have candid conversations with those same people. These candid conversations are often a treasure trove for investigators because emails live forever on every server that they ever touched!

If you are employed with an organization that has been paying for substantial “entertainment” for state or local officials and your company does business with those same agencies, you may already be a target of an investigation and you may need your own separate counsel to represent your interests in the matter under investigation. The attorneys at the Dillon Law Group have over fifty years of experience in these cases and have tried some of the biggest bribery and corruption cases in the southeast. We have handled bribery cases in the civil construction industry, commercial construction business, petroleum and petrochemical industries, and the paving industry. We will work with you to minimize your exposure in the investigation and obtain the best possible outcome for you.

If you have concerns, feel free to contact us at 404.713.3283. We will be glad to meet with you for a free consultation to discuss your situation.

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