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A Handful of Unlawful Behaviors, Led by Fraud and Bribery, Account for Nearly All Public Corruption Convictions Since 1985

NCJ Number
254766
Date Published
Agencies
NIJ
Grant Number(s)
2015-IJ-CX-0007
Annotation
The purpose of the study, sponsored by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), was to fill a literature gap with empirically based knowledge of prosecution practices, corruption-fighting statutes, and types of behavior underlying prosecutions.
Abstract
Every public corruption case is different in the details, but the thousands of corruption convictions in federal courts since the mid-1980s have largely boiled down to four categories of criminal conduct: fraud, bribery, extortion, and conspiracy. A comprehensive analysis of nearly 57,000 federal court corruption cases spanning 30 years revealed that fraud and bribery dominated the types of conduct underlying criminal cases, accounting for 76% of the lead charges in cases resulting in convictions. Those two unlawful behavior types, combined with extortion and conspiracy, broadly informed the lead charges in virtually all examined corruption convictions in federal courts from 1985 to 2015. That was a key finding of a case records study by a research team led by Jay S. Albanese of Virginia Commonwealth University. The purpose of the study, sponsored by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), was to fill a literature gap with empirically based knowledge of prosecution practices, corruption-fighting statutes, and types of behavior underlying prosecutions, the researchers said. New insights on corrupt behavior could inform new policies to prevent some corrupt conduct and discover some corrupt acts earlier, the team reported in a published paper developed through an NIJ grant.
Date Created: June 5, 2020