Wealthy California Residents Should Be Wary of Bribery Laws
There is no doubt that greater wealth goes hand in hand with greater influence in California. However, wealthy individuals should understand that this influence is limited by strict laws in the Golden State. Chief among these is the law against bribery, and the authorities are extremely serious about rooting out corruption across the entire state. Anyone can be accused and convicted of bribery, including some of the state’s most influential politicians and business leaders. A number of recent cases highlight this fact in unquestionable clarity.
Authorities in California Crack Down on Bribery in the Education Sector
Over the past few weeks, a surprising number of people have faced consequences for bribery in the educational sector. This suggests a coordinated and targeted effort by the authorities in California.
In August of 2023, a former dean at the University of Southern California was sentenced to over a decade of house arrest after it became clear that she had bribed a Los Angeles County official. She was apparently trying to secure a lucrative contract, and the judge presiding over the case said that they would have given her a prison sentence if not for the fact that she quickly admitted her wrongdoing.
This dean was connected with another high-profile case within the educational sector involving Mark Ridley-Thomas – the same supervisor that the aforementioned dean dealt with. Unlike the dean, however, Ridley-Thomas was sentenced to 3.5 years in federal prison for his role in the bribery scheme. This individual apparently provided political support for the lucrative contract while demanding that his son receive certain benefits in exchange.
Essentially, he was trying to set up a new career path for his son, who had been forced to step down from his role at the California State Assembly due to sexual harassment investigations. The sexual harassment scandal was never made public, partly due to Mark Ridley Thomas’ efforts to create a misleading media and legal campaign. These new jobs were intended to provide his son with “prestigious titles, advanced degrees, and paying jobs,” in the words of the Justice Department.
Back in January of 2023, another official at the University of Southern California was sentenced to six months in prison for accepting bribes. She apparently received a total of $160,000 for allowing unqualified students to essentially abuse a system intended to draw in sports recruits for the school. This came just days after another official was sentenced to 3.5 years. This longer sentence reflects the convict’s role as the “ringleader” of the operation. Not only did they accept bribes, but they also facilitated widespread cheating on entrance exams. Many of the students were not even athletes, despite being allegedly “recruited” by the school to play on teams.
Apple Employee Charged with Bribing the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office
On August 29, Apple’s head of global security was reportedly given a trial date in connection with bribery allegations. He was accused of offering the Santa Clara Sheriff’s Office up to 200 iPads in exchange for providing concealed carry gun permits. The permits, which are famously difficult to obtain in California, were reportedly necessary for the security head as he responded to a series of death threats against the company’s CEO Tim Cook. The company appears to be supporting the employee, and he has not been forced to resign. On the other hand, the County Sheriff involved in this scandal has already been convicted of granting gun permits in exchange for a number of bribes, including campaign donations.
FBI Agent Sentenced for Bribery
Back in February of 2023, it was reported that an FBI agent had been sentenced to six years in federal prison for accepting over $150,000 in gifts and cash bribes. In exchange, he provided confidential information to an individual with known links to organized crime. This FBI agent operated mostly out of San Francisco and dealt with national security investigations. Apparently, he agreed to search criminal databases on behalf of a lawyer and his criminal client to determine whether or not they were under investigation.
California Mayor Pleads Guilty to Bribery Charges
In January of 2023, it was reported that a California mayor had pleaded guilty to bribery charges. The individual had apparently accepted almost $60,000 in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for providing licenses and permits for commercial marijuana operations. Even though marijuana has been legal in California since 2016, government regulations present many roadblocks for those trying to break into the industry.
The mayor sought to make his small town a center for this new industry and even advertised it as the “Silicon Valley of Medical Marijuana.” Even before he took power, the previous mayor was approached by an undercover agent posing as a marijuana businessman and unwittingly accepted a $10,000 cash bribe. Once the new mayor took power, he continued this trend. Back in January, it was reported that the mayor faced a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars.
Anyone Can Be Charged With Bribery
All of these stories indicate that just about anyone can be charged with bribery in California. These include politicians, law enforcement officers, corporate officials, college employees, and many others. If you believe that your wealth and your influence somehow shield you from the negative consequences of bribery, you should consider the fact that all of the aforementioned people probably felt the same way.
Where Can I Find a Criminal Defense Lawyers in California?
If you have been accused of bribery in California, it is imperative that you consider your legal options as quickly as possible. Consider booking a consultation with Milligan, Beswick, Levine & Knox, LLP at your earliest convenience. During your initial consultation, we can discuss the specifics of your situation and the most appropriate course of legal action. With the right defense strategy, it is possible to mitigate the consequences associated with bribery allegations. As we have highlighted in this article, prison time is a genuine possibility. Reach out to our California defense attorneys today to get started.
Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.