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The Anticorruption Manual: A Guide for State Prosecutors provides a comprehensive overview of prosecuting corruption in the United States. This is the first publication in 30 years dedicated to guiding prosecutors who investigate and charge public corruption crimes. It is the first-ever publication designed specifically to address the needs of state and local corruption prosecutors. 

The Anticorruption Manual:  

  • Provides tools and tips for prosecutors initiating or managing a corruption investigation.  
  • Outlines the mechanics of real-world corruption cases, written by the prosecutors who investigated and charged these cases.   
  • Highlights the ethical, statutory, and constitutional limits and obligations most likely to arise in corruption prosecutionsincluding how to balance the public’s interest in a case with the defendant’s right to a fair trial. 
  • Explains various civil and administrative remedies that may be effective in corruption prosecutions. 

Topics Addressed in the Manual

The 30-chapter book includes information about:  

  • Legal and practical challenges facing prosecutors investigating judges, police officers, high-ranking members of the executive branch, and legislators. (Section One) 
  • The mechanics of a complex public corruption investigation, including investigative techniques such as wiretaps and undercover operations. (Section Two) 
  • Federal and state laws—from bribery and misconduct to transparency violations and conflicts of interest—that can be used to charge corrupt officials. (Section Three) 
  • Challenges that may arise during corruption trials. (Section Four) 
  • Ethical issues that may face corruption prosecutors and their offices. (Section Five) 
  • Civil and administrative relief that may be appropriate in some public corruption cases. (Section Six) 

Where Does Corruption Occur?

NAAG's Anticorruption Manual covers patterns of corruption that might be found in:

  • The three branches of the government—judicial, executive, or legislative.
  • Certain governmental systems—such as the process to bid for contracts and elections.
  • Local government—an area perhaps particularly germane to state and local prosecutors.
  • Police corruption—which includes information about methods used by federal prosecutors (including cooperation agreements, non-prosecution agreements, and immunity orders) to secure witnesses’ testimony.
  • Union leadership—which includes a discussion of the use of monitors, an oversight mechanism more commonly employed by federal prosecutors, but one that state and local prosecutors may want to consider in cases involving corrupt entities.

The authors explore these patterns of corruption using a combination of case studies, often from their own practice, and general law principles. These case studies illustrate how corruption manifests in various factual and legal contextsin an easy to understand and engaging format.

The Importance of Anticorruption Work

  • Corruption undermines the rule of law, erodes trust in government, impacts public safety, and wastes public resources. 
  • A corrupt act victimizes not just one person or a group of people, but everyone in the jurisdiction where it is committed. 
  • Healthy democracies have institutions dedicated to rooting out corruption before it can take hold; prosecutors can play an important institutional role by investigating and charging corrupt actors who violate the law 
  • Confronting corruption protects the rule of law, reinforces trust in government, fosters safer communities, deters further corruption, and improves the lives of people in tangible ways. 
  • Given that the U.S. Supreme Court has interpreted federal fraud law as leaving much public corruption to the states to rectify, local and state prosecutors are increasingly the only actorwith the authority to investigate and prosecute certain corrupt officials. 


As the United States considers the state of its criminal justice system, there is one category of crimes that demands more rigorous and effective enforcement, not less—public corruption.  Written by an array of experienced practitioners, The Anticorruption Manual provides a clear-eyed assessment of the difficult legal environment within which corruption prosecutions take place, as well as detailed recommendations on tactics and procedures to gain justice for citizens in spite of the challenges."

Sarah Chayes
Author, On Corruption in America—And What Is at Stake

Anticorruption laws are only as effective as their enforcement. But that is complicated business: evidence can be murky, and cooperation can be scarce. Critical choices must be made, often in the midst of intense public attention and political pressures. Delicate questions of prosecutorial ethics, and of timing, add further complexities. The Anticorruption Manual provides—for the first time in decades—a comprehensive survey of those issues and more, laying out cases and cautionary tales from the state as well as federal level. Anyone concerned with bringing the law to bear against corruption will find this book indispensable.”

Michael Johnston
Charles A. Dana Professor of Political Science, Emeritus
Colgate University

With The Anticorruption Manual, NAAG has created not just a critical tool for investigators and prosecutors on the front lines of tackling public corruption, but the seminal resource in this area for anyone wanting to dig into this entrenched societal problem and the available law enforcement responses to it. It's a nuts-and-bolts instruction manual for every stage of investigation and prosecution, an explanation of the reasons that different kinds of corruption exist and persist, and a guide for how to approach the toughest strategic challenges of criminal prosecutions in this area, all rolled into one. The Manual should be on the bookshelf of every public corruption prosecutor in the country."

Jennifer Rodgers
Lecturer-in-Law, Columbia Law School, and Former Federal Prosecutor

Of course all prosecutors should read The Anticorruption Manual—but also policymakers, advocates, academics, and others who need to understand how the system works in the real world.  Laws get passed and rules are adopted, but the experiences accessibly conveyed in this book provide valuable insights into the challenges of cracking down on corruption and the tools available to overcome them.

In describing the complexities involved in these cases, like the politics of prosecuting popular public figures, authors provide the necessary context to connect the dots between well-crafted storytelling and strategic and tactical takeaways for practitioners.

We, as advocates, often hear that one significant hurdle to more prosecutions of corruption is a lack of knowledge and training available to investigators and prosecutors to successfully take on these cases.  This book is a serious step toward changing that dynamic.

It is a timely and important look at both the need and the methods to hold corrupt actors accountable."

Gary Kalman
Director, Transparency International's U.S. Office Organization

Inside and outside the United States, we need to be constantly reminded that the overwhelming majority of crimes are handled at the state and local level. The same applies to corruption offenses. The Anticorruption Manual, edited by Amie Ely and Marissa Walker, is an extraordinarily helpful tool for prosecutors, teachers, students and practitioners. It contains numerous examples and case studies highlighting the nature of the problem, detailed references to federal and state statutes, preventive approaches, challenges in investigation and prosecution, lessons learned, investigative techniques, sanctions, practical insights and good ideas, resources and tools. We should all be grateful to the National Association of Attorneys General for producing such a detailed, hands-on, and essential reading that will support efforts to enhance capacity and improve the effective implementation of anticorruption laws."

Nikos Passas
Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Northeastern University

Meet the Editors


Chapter authors include former and current federal, state, and local prosecutors, as well as law professors.  

  • Stacy Aronowitz, New York Attorney General's Office
  • Brenda Bauges, University of Idaho College of Law
  • Wesley Cheng, Formerly with the New York Attorney General's Office and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office
  • Michael Chu, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Carrie Cohen, Morrison & Foerster LLP
  • Dan Cort, New York City Department of Investigation
  • Alice Dery, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Katie Duhig, Farrell & Farrell, Ltd.
  • Robert Falin, Montgomery County District Attorney's Office
  • Steve Grimes, Winston & Strawn LLP
  • Peter Henning, Wayne State University Law School
  • Michelle Henry, Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office
  • Johnjerica Hodge, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
  • Christine Hoffman, New Jersey Attorney General's Office
  • Brian Kane, Idaho Attorney General's Office
  • Peter Lee, New Jersey Attorney General's Office
  • Beverly Ma, Bronx County District Attorney's Office
  • Ann Ratnayake Macy, National Center for Child Abuse Statistics and Policy
  • Howard Master, Suffolk County (New York) District Attorney's Office
  • Thomas McGoldrick, Montgomery County District Attorney's Office
  • Glen McGorty, Crowell & Moring
  • Circuit Judge Dave Navarro, Cook County
  • Victor Olds, Columbia Law School
  • Jeff Perconte, Major League Baseball Players Association
  • Anthony Picione, New Jersey Attorney General's Office
  • Daniel Pietragallo, Colorado Attorney General's Office
  • Rebecca Ricigliano, Crowell & Moring
  • Jessica Roth, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and Jacob Burns Center for Ethics in the Practice of Law
  • Rob Shapiro, Colorado Attorney General's Office
  • Darrin Sobin, District of Columbia Bar
  • Steve Solow, Baker Botts LLP
  • Kevin Steele, Montgomery County District Attorney's Office
  • Tim VanderGeisen, Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office

Attorneys General and Anticorruption

Attorney general offices play an important role in reducing and rooting out corruption in their states and territories.

NAGTRI Center for Ethics and Public Integrity

NAAG supports the anticorruption work of attorneys general through the NAGTRI Center for Ethics & Public Integrity (CEPI).

Attorney General Journal

NAAG's online publication includes several articles on the issue of anticorruption.

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