State Gift Law Map and Summary Table: CEPI’s website offers an interactive map and sortable table displaying the types of statutes that govern when a public official may or may not accept a gift. The gift statutes apply to instances where a thing of value is given to an official without a clear quid pro quo and without adequate consideration given in return. They tend to fall into three different categories, which are shown in the map and table as: general restrictions, source-based restrictions, and intent-based restrictions. Many states have more than one type of gift restriction. CEPI welcomes any feedback on this new resource. Please contact Marissa Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or questions.
The Anticorruption Manual: A Guide for State Prosecutors: CEPI’s comprehensive Anticorruption Manual was published in August 2021. This is the first publication in thirty years to guide prosecutors who investigate and charge public corruption crimes. It is the first-ever book designed to address the needs of state and local corruption prosecutors. The book is available for purchase; members of the attorney general community should log into to their NAAG accounts to access a discount code, and other prosecutors should email Zayn Hasan at email@example.com for their discount code. A free sample chapter addressing judicial corruption is available for download. A series of articles further describes the purpose and contents of the manual.
Former Jefferson County Constable Jonathan Barbee Arrested on Ethics and Tax Charges: Jonathan Barbee, former constable for Jefferson County, Alabama, was indicted on charges of using his position or office to pay family members and evasion of state income taxes. Barbee is accused of paying his wife and father for traffic control through the county constable bank account. Barbee served as press secretary for an Alabama political party and has run for multiple offices in the past. The case was brought by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, Special Prosecutions Division, and Alabama Department of Revenue.
Former Deputy Sheriff Sentenced for Misconduct in Office: Todd Barkley, deputy sheriff in Hillsdale County, Michigan, was sentenced to three years of probation and 90 days in jail (suspended), and must register on the Michigan Sex Offender Registry for 15 years. Also, Barkley is prohibited from serving as a law enforcement officer in the future. Barkley previously pleaded guilty to misconduct in office for using his official position to coerce a woman into a sexual relationship. The coercion victim was in a substance abuse rehabilitation facility in Kentucky when Barkley used his official position to allow her to leave the facility for the purpose of having sex with Barkley. This case was brought by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.
Trenton Cop Indicted in 64-Year-Old’s Death During Violent 2020 Arrest: Trenton, New Jersey Police Officer Nicholas Piotrowski was indicted on charges of official misconduct for using pepper spray during an arrest of a 64-year-old man, Joseph Ahr, Sr. Several officers went to Ahr’s house after Ahr’s son called police. While the officers were speaking outside with Ahr’s son, Ahr came to the door and argued with the officers. Officers handcuffed Ahr and pepper sprayed him, which was recorded by an officer’s body camera. The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office investigates all deaths that occur during law enforcement encounters. This case was brought by the New Jersey Attorney General Office’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability.
School Bus Company Owners Lied About Drivers’ Criminal Pasts, Officials Allege: Shelim Khalique and Jwel Khalique, brothers who operate American Star Transportation LLC, a school bus company based in Paterson, New Jersey, were charged with conspiracy, false representation for a government contract, and theft by deception. Jwel was also charged with misconduct by a corporate official. The brothers allegedly knowingly misrepresented the qualifications of their company and its drivers to be awarded contracts to transport students by multiple school districts in New Jersey. An American Star Transportation driver was pulled over by a police officer after failing to stop at a stop sign and was found to be unlicensed and had a pending criminal charge against him for patronizing a prostitute. One of the brothers, Shelim, had been previously charged in 2020 with similar crimes committed with a different bus company, A-1 Elegant Tours, Inc. The case was brought by the New Jersey State Police Official Corruption Bureau and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, Office of Public Integrity and Accountability.
Correctional Officer Admits Attacking Handcuffed Prisoner, Lying About It, Officials Say: Jason Parks, a former New Jersey correctional officer, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit official misconduct for attacking a handcuffed prisoner and lying about it in a report. Parks also directed another officer to write a false report to support his own report. As part of his plea agreement, Parks permanently forfeited his public employment. He has not yet been sentenced. The case was brought by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.
Former Clerk for Wapakoneta’s Utilities Department Accused of Stealing More Than $150,000: Christine Ann Steinke, former clerk for the utilities department in Wapakoneta, Ohio, was indicted on thirteen charges of tampering with records and theft in office. Steinke allegedly stole over $150,000 from the city by taking a portion of customer payments to the utilities department for her own personal use. The alleged thefts were discovered when the utilities department upgraded its software and found discrepancies in accounts. The case is being handled by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Wapakoneta Police Department, and Auglaize County Prosecutor’s Office.
Uniontown Treasurer Accused of Stealing $106K in Taxpayer Funds: Antoinette Hodge, the elected treasurer of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, was charged with theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received, misapplication of entrusted property, obstructing administration of law or other governmental function, and perjury for stealing approximately $106,000 in taxpayer funds. The Uniontown City Council began a forensic audit after multiple taxpayers received a delinquency notice despite having already paid their taxes and found a loss of $106,750. After a grand jury investigation, Hodge is accused of taking that money for her personal gain. As treasurer, Hodge allegedly carried out the theft by making changes to operations, such as Hodge taking over filling out deposit slips, taking over sole review of tax account information, and eliminating other checks and balances. This case was brought by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.
Former Spokane County Worker Sentenced to 366 Days in Prison for Theft: Rhonda Sue Ackerman, a former liability claims technician for Spokane County, Washington, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison for stealing $1.38 million from Spokane County over ten years. Ackerman stole the funds by filing fraudulent claims that named relatives and friends as the claimants and then directing those claimants to give the majority of the funds to her. Ackerman pleaded guilty to one count of theft in October 2022. Ackerman was also sentenced to pay full restitution. This case was brought by the Washington Attorney General’s Office.
Contractor Gets Prison Time, $172K Fine in Bribery Case at JBER, Eielson: Ryan Dalbec, owner of Best Choice Construction LLC, was sentenced to 42 months in prison and ordered to pay a $172,000 fine and $16,000 in restitution. Dalbec previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery and admitted to agreeing to pay over $460,000 in bribes to a U.S. Air Force contracting official in exchange for confidential bidding information. That confidential information helped Dalbec’s company win contracts including a $6.8 million project at Eielson Air Force Base and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska. Dalbec also helped launder the bribes that he paid.
Former Arkansas Judge Arrested, Accused of Soliciting from Defendant’s Girlfriend: Thomas Carruth, former district court judge for Monroe County, Arkansas, was indicted on three counts of honest services wire fraud, three counts of using a facility in interstate commerce in furtherance of unlawful activity, one count of bribery, one count of making false statements, and one count of obstruction of justice. Carruth allegedly solicited sex from the girlfriend of a defendant in exchange for expediting that defendant’s trial date. Carruth also allegedly lied to law enforcement when questioned about the incident.
Beverly Hills Developer Sentenced for Bribery Scheme: Arman Gabaee, a real estate developer in Beverly Hills, California, was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay a $1.14 million fine. Gabaee previously pleaded guilty to one count of bribery and admitted to bribing Thomas J. Shepos, an official in Los Angeles County’s Real Estate Division in exchange for county leases, preferential contract terms, and non-public information. Shepos pleaded guilty in 2018 to one count of making false statements and one count of submitting a false tax return.
Former Delaware State Trooper Sentenced in Theft Scheme: Jamal Merrell, a former Delaware state trooper, was sentenced to six months in prison after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of deprivation of rights under color of law. Merrell had visited a shipping company, Totaltranslogistics, telling employees there that he was conducting an investigation. During the purported investigation, Merrell stole over $20,000 worth of items from the company. Merrell sold some of the stolen items on the internet and from the trunk of his patrol car.
Former DeKalb Tax Supervisor Indicted on Wire Fraud Following Federal Case: Gerald Harris, former supervisor at the tax office for Dekalb County, Georgia, was indicted on three charges of wire fraud for allegedly helping to register a stolen vehicle. The wire fraud indictment occurred while Harris was already sentenced to prison for a similar bribery offense. In 2020, Harris had been sentenced to two years in prison for accepting bribes to register vehicles that could not legally be registered for various reasons. After being sentenced, Harris was terminated from his position and given six months to report to prison. In that six-month period, Harris again accepted a bribe in exchange for registering a stolen vehicle.
Former Contractor Pleads Guilty in Afghan Bid and Visa Scheme: Orlando Clark, a U.S. citizen, resident of Georgia, and former contractor working on behalf of U.S. interests in Afghanistan, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery of a public official and conspiracy to commit visa fraud for accepting $400,000 in bribes. Clark accepted the bribes from an Afghan company in exchange for awarding public contracts to the company. Clark also accepted bribes to sign false letters of recommendation for Afghans in support of visa applications.
Retired County Employee Pleads Guilty in Bribery Case: Wilfred Tamayo Savella, a former county employee in Maui County, Hawaii, pleaded guilty to one count of accepting bribes in connection with a local government receiving federal funds. Savella accepted more than $40,000 in bribes from Milton Choy, owner of a water business, from about 2013 to 2017, in exchange for favorable treatment in awarding public wastewater contracts. Choy pleaded guilty to bribery in September 2022 and another Maui County official, Stewart Stant, also pleaded guilty in September 2022.
Ex-CTA Clerk Charged With Stealing $350K From Retirement Fund: Ayanna Nesbitt, former clerk for the Chicago Transit Authority in Chicago, Illinois, was indicted on five counts of wire fraud for allegedly creating false death and pension benefit requests to defraud the Chicago Transit Authority out of over $350,000.
Federal Officials Announce Outcome of Muncie Corruption Investigation: Four former city officials as well as a police officer, a private citizen, and two government contractors were convicted and sentenced as a result of a years-long investigation and prosecution of government corruption in Muncie, Indiana. A summary of the offenses and sentences was announced by the U.S. Department of Justice. Between 2014 and 2019, the City of Muncie engaged in a series of public works projects that were intended to benefit the City’s residents. Officials were required to solicit bids for the projects, but instead they engaged in bid-rigging and kickback schemes. In total, the city awarded over $3 million in contracts and the city lost approximately $1.5 million as a result of the pay-to-play scheme. Additionally, some defendants engaged in witness tampering, retaliation, and destruction of evidence.
Wife of Woodbury County Supervisor Jeremy Taylor Charged for Voter Fraud Scheme: Kim Phuong Taylor, the wife of a county supervisor in Woodbury County, Iowa, was indicted on twenty-six counts of providing false information in registering and voting, three counts of fraudulent registration, and twenty-three counts of fraudulent voting. Taylor allegedly sought to generate votes for her husband in the primary election in June 2020 when her husband was a candidate for U.S. Congress and in the 2020 general election when her husband was a candidate for county supervisor. Taylor is accused of fraudulently completing dozens of voter registrations, absentee ballot request forms, and absentee ballots for other voters without their permission.
Iowa Police Chief Charged with Fraud for Allegedly Selling Machine Guns for Profit: Bradley Wendt, Chief of Police in Adair, Iowa, was indicted on charges of conspiracy to make false statements and defraud the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) as well as 18 counts of making a false statement to the ATF and one count of illegal possession of a machine gun. In total, Wendt sought to acquire 90 machine guns for the Adair Police Department, which serves a town of less than 800 people. In addition to reselling some guns for a personal profit, Wendt hosted public machine gun shoots where Wendt charged members of the public to shoot the guns.
Former Wayne County Employee Pleads Guilty to Embezzling $1.7 Million: Kevin Gunn, a former Wayne County (Michigan) Roads Division employee, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit federal program theft for engaging in a scheme to purchase generators and other power equipment using unauthorized public funds and then selling that equipment for a personal profit.
Former Missouri State Highway Patrol Employee Indicted for Accepting Bribes: Larry S. Conrad, former supervisory motor vehicle inspector for the Missouri State Highway Patrol, was indicted on one charge of using a facility in interstate commerce, a cellular telephone, to facilitate a bribery scheme that was unlawful under Missouri statutes prohibiting acceding to corruption and official misconduct. Conrad is accused of taking cash bribes to pass vehicles that should not have passed inspection or to sign and certify inspection forms for vehicles he never inspected.
Ex-Town Supervisor in Greene County Gets Probation for $25K Storm Aid Scam: Kory O’Hara, former town supervisor of Prattsville, New York, was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and $24,915 in restitution. O’Hara previously pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and admitted that he obtained false invoices from a modular home business to show construction work had been done on O’Hara’s automotive garage when, in fact, no work had been performed. O’Hara submitted those invoices to Prattsville and New York State Housing Trust Fund Corporation to falsely obtain $24,915 in grant proceeds.
Former Head of Powerful Construction Labor Association Confesses to Taking Bribes: James Cahill, former president of the New York Building and Construction Trades Council, and ten former union officials pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from a construction company to corruptly favor non-union employers in New York. Cahill accepted more than $40,000 between 2018 and 2020 and $100,000 more from the same company prior to that period.
Ex-Spring Lake Finance Director Gets Four Years in Federal Prison for Embezzling $567K: Gay Cameron Tucker, former finance director for Spring Lake, North Carolina, was sentenced to four years in prison after she had previously pleaded guilty to embezzlement from an agency receiving federal funds and aggravated identity theft. Over five years, Tucker embezzled $567,070 from the town by writing checks from the town account to herself and forging the signatures of other town officials. Tucker used the funds to cover her personal expenses.
Three of Four Former Toledo City Council Members Accused of Bribery Plead Guilty: Three former members of the city council in Toledo, Ohio, pleaded guilty to charges relating to their participation in a bribery scheme. Larry Sykes and Tyrone Riley pleaded guilty to one count each of Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right. Yvonne Harper pleaded guilty to one count of Hobbs Act conspiracy. The councilmembers accepted bribes in exchange for voting in support of zoning changes and special use permits for local businesses.
Local 98 Employees Plead Guilty to Fraud, Embezzling Union Assets: Four former employees of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania pleaded guilty to charges related to embezzlement of union assets for their personal benefit. Michael Neill pleaded guilty to four counts of embezzling labor union assets, one count of theft from a union employee benefit plan, and one count of falsifying a tax document. Marita Crawford pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud. Niko Rodriguez and Brian Fiocca each pleaded guilty to six counts of embezzling labor union assets. Those four defendants had been indicted with former Local 98 business manager John Dougherty, who is awaiting trial on embezzlement and tax fraud charges, but who was previously convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and seven counts of wire fraud.
Virginia Defense Contractors Plead Guilty to Accepting Home Improvement Supplies in Bribery Scheme: Susan Keim, Russell Keim, and Rodney Gale Wilson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe to a public official for their scheme to personally profit from misusing the public contracting process that Susan Keim oversaw as an employee of Skookum Educational Services (Skookum), a company that provided maintenance and supply services at Fort Lee in Prince George County, Virginia. Wilson was a friend of Susan Keim’s and he created a company, C&L Supply, for the purpose of selling supplies to Skookum. Skookum awarded C&L Supply over $900,000 in contracts and, in exchange, Wilson paid Russel Keim compensation as an employee and paid for work on property owned by the Keims. Keim never actually worked for C&L.
Federal Judge Blasts Miami Prosecutors for Spying on Defense: A district court in the Southern District of Florida granted a motion for a new trial in favor of three defendants, Matthew Pisoni, Marcus Pradel, and Victor Ramirez. Those three defendants and a fourth defendant, John Leon, were notified in 2014 that they were targets of an investigation relating to their sweepstakes newsletter marketing business. The defendants entered into a Joint Defense Agreement (JDA), which provided that all shared information would remain privileged and confidential. The defendants were then charged with mail fraud and money laundering offenses. In 2016, Leon agreed to cooperate with the government and shared defense information despite the JDA. In 2016, the court held an evidentiary hearing and found that the government improperly obtained defense information but did not dismiss the charges because the government appeared to have independent sources of much of the information learned through Leon. The court struck Leon from testifying. After a five-week jury trial, the three defendants were found guilty of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Post-conviction, the government sought to correct the record because it discovered that it had provided inaccurate information to the court during pre-trial proceedings. Defendants moved for a dismissal or new trial based on several new disclosures of misrepresentations by the government to the court. The court granted the motion for a new trial because not only did the prosecutors improperly invade the defense camp, but they misrepresented their actions to the court and those misrepresentations affected the court’s ruling and likely the jury’s verdict.
Former Bolivian Minister Sentenced to 70 Months for Laundering Bribes: Arturo Carlos Murillo Prijic, former government minister in Bolivia, was sentenced to 70 months in prison for laundering bribes he received for securing Bolivian government contracts for a U.S. company. Murillo previously pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Murillo had received over $500,000 in bribes in exchange for obtaining contracts for a U.S. company to provide tear gas to the Bolivian defense ministry.
Honeywell to Pay About $200 Million to Settle U.S., Brazilian Bribery Charges: Honeywell International Inc. has agreed to settle criminal and civil corruption investigations in the United States and Brazil. Honeywell entered into a three-year deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the U.S. Department of Justice in connection with a criminal information charging the company with conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Between 2010 and 2014, Honeywell offered $4 million in bribes an executive of Petróleo Brasileiro S.A (Petrobras) in Brazil to win a contract worth over $400 million from Petrobras to design and build an oil refinery. Honeywell will pay $160 million in U.S. civil and criminal penalties. It will pay an additional amount to Brazilian authorities.