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Bribery and Related Offenses

Bribery can be illegal under New York state law in a wide variety of circumstances. Article 180 of the Penal Law governs the bribery of non-public servants, whereas Article 200 applies to the bribery of public servants. Generally speaking, bribery of public officials is a more serious offense that carries more significant penalties, but bribery of all kinds can result in strict jail sentences.

Key Penal Law Provisions:

  • Commercial bribing in the second degree, PL 180.00, a class A misdemeanor
  • Commercial bribing in the first degree, PL 180.03, a class E felony
  • Commercial bribe receiving in the second degree, PL 180.05, a class A misdemeanor
  • Commercial bribe receiving in the first degree, PL 180.08, a class E felony
  • Bribing a labor official, PL 180.15, a class D felony
  • Bribe receiving by a labor official, PL 180.20, a class D felony
  • Sports bribing, PL 180.40, a class D felony
  • Sports bribe receiving, PL 180.45, a class D felony
  • Tampering with a sports contest in the second degree, PL 180.50, a class A misdemeanor
  • Tampering with a sports contest in the first degree, PL 180.51, a class E felony
  • Rent gouging in the third degree, PL 180.55, a class B misdemeanor
  • Rent gouging in the second degree, PL 180.56, a class A misdemeanor
  • Rent gouging in the first degree, PL 180.57, a class E felony
  • Bribery in the third degree, PL 200.00, a class D felony
  • Bribery in the second degree, PL 200.03, a class C felony
  • Bribery in the first degree, PL 200.04, a class B felony
  • Bribe receiving in the third degee, PL 200.10, a class D felony
  • Bribe receiving in the second degre, PL 200.11, a class C felony
  • Bribe receiving in the first degree, PL 200.12, a class B felony
  • Rewarding official misconduct in the second degree, PL 200.20, a class E felony
  • Rewarding officlal misconduct in the first degree, PL 200.22, a class C felony
  • Receiving a reward for official misconduct in the second degree, PL 200.25, a class E felony
  • Receiving a reward for official misconduct in the first degree, PL 200.27, a class C felony
  • Bribe giving for public office, PL 200.45, a class D felony
  • Bribe receiving for public office, PL 200.50, a class D felony

A commonly-charged form of the offense is bribery in the third degree, PL 200.00. A person is guilty of it when they “confer or offer or agree to confer any benefit upon a public servant upon an agreement or understanding that such public servant’s vote opinion, judgment, action, decision or exercise of discretion as a public servant will thereby be influenced.” This situation most commonly arises when a person who has just been arrested offers his arresting police officer money in exchange for his own release. In a typical case, the officer will often attempt to re-confirm the bribery offer from the arrestee while recording his conversation with the arrestee. If the bribe is for more than $10,000, then the charge is elevated to a Class C felony (Bribery in the Second Degree, PL 200.03). If the bribe is for the purpose of influencing the investigation, arrest, detention, prosecution or incarceration of any person for a Class A felony (such as murder), then the crime is a Class B felony (Bribery in the First Degree, PL 200.04).

Mirroring these statutes are the three degrees of bribe receiving. In a nutshell, these charges penalize the receiving of the types of bribes described above, with a similar sliding scale of seriousness from Class D (Third Degree, PL 200.10), to Class C felony (Second Degree, PL 200.11) and Class B felony (PL 200.12).

A public official or party officer cannot lawfully solicit, accept or agree to accept any money or other property from another person upon an agreement or understanding that some other person will or may be appointed to a public office or nominated as a candidate for public office. Similarly, a person cannot confer or offer or agree to confer such a benefit upon a public official or party officer for the same purpose. A person believed to have engaged in that type of conduct could potentially be charged with bribe receiving for public office, PL 200.45, or bribe giving for public office, PL 200.50, respectively.

Outside of the public arena, it can be illegal to bribe an employee or agent in order to influence his conduct in relation to his employer’s or principal’s affairs See Commercial bribing in the second and first degrees, PL 180.00, 180.03. In the same vein, it can be illegal for an employee or agent to accept a bribefor the purpose of influencing his conduct or relation to his employer’s or principal’s affairs, PL 180.05, 180.08. It can also be illegal to bribe a labor official for the purpose of influencing him in respect to any of his acts, decisions, or duties as a labor official, PL 180.15, or for a labor official to accept the same, PL 180.25.

Rent gouging is another bribery-related offense described in Article 180. A person is guilty of the Third Degree version of this crime when, in connection with the leasing, rental or use of real property, he solicits, accepts or agrees to accept from a person some consideration of value in addition to lawful rental and other lawful charges, upon an agreement or understanding that the furnishing of such consideration will increase the possibility that any person may obtain or renew the lease, rental or use of such property, or that a failure to furnish it will decrease the possibility that any person may obtain or renew the same, PL 180.55. When the consideration offered is worth two hundred fifty dollars or more, the crime becomes a Class A misdemeanor, PL 180.56. Finally, where a person commits three acts of rent gouging, he can be charged with the class E felony of rent gouging in the first degree, PL 180.57.

Bribery in sports is also outlawed in New York. PL 180.40 makes it a class D felony to offer or agree to confer a benefit upon a sports participant in exchange for him not to give his best efforts in a sports contest. Similarly, it is also a class D felony to offer or agree to confer a benefit upon an official in order to influence him to perform his duties improperly. Interestingly, it is only a class E felony for a participant or a sports official to solicit, accept or agree to a bribe in exchange for the same, PL 180.45.

In addition, tampering with a sports contest can be a class A misdemeanor, PL 180.50, or a class E felony, PL 180.51, and occurs generally where a person “tampers with any sports participant, sports official or with any animal or equipment or other thing involved in the conduct or operation of a sports contest in a manner contrary to the rules and usages purporting to govern such a contest” with the “intent to influence the outcome of a sports contest”. Obviously, not every act of sports cheating warrants criminal prosecution, but cases have been pursued in the past. For example, Panama Lewis was famously convicted of tampering with a sports contest for secretly removing the lining from Luis Resto’s boxing gloves just prior to the Luis Resto-Billy Collins boxing match in Madison Square Garden in 1983.

Recent Bribery-Related Cases Handled by Galluzzo & Arnone:

  • Client, a foreign professional employed by a bank and working in NY on a work-related visa, was arrested and charged with allegedly bribing a police lieutenant.
    • Result: all charges dismissed without any professional or immigration consequences for the client.