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The Gift That Keeps Taking: Bribery Charges in New York

As the musical Cabaret once put it, “Money makes the world go round.” Money is certainly a powerful force in society. Without it, we would not be able to purchase the goods or services we need. However, not all money is associated with a commendable function. This is of course true of funds used in exchange for favors. Bribing. Kickbacks. Greasing palms. These acts of impropriety are often depicted in movies, or on TV. Despite their portrayal, the laws prohibiting such activity are very real.

Bribery Involving Police Officers

Shaya (Alex) Lichtenstein of Rockland County knows this all too well. On April 18, 2016 the Daily News reported on the results of a police corruption probe examining gun permits within the department. The probe began after Lichtenstein allegedly approached an officer and attempted to bribe him in exchange for expediting the processing of certain gun permits. Once the officer met with the police department’s internal affairs division, a sting operation was set up in coordination with federal agents. Lichtenstein then purportedly told undercover officers that they could make up to $900,000 for helping him to expedite permits. In many cases, Lichtenstein would allegedly charge individuals up to $25,000 to rush them through the permit process. Normally the process would take at least a year. Lichtenstein was arrested after the sting on charges of bribery, but then later released on a $500,000 personal recognizance bond.

It Takes Two to Bribe

In an even more recently published article, Newsday reported on another arrest related to the same corruption probe headed by the New York Police Department and federal agents. Hamlet Peralta allegedly ran a Ponzi scheme which defrauded investors of $12 million. His bail was set at $5 million, which he was unable to post. Although Peralta was arrested on charges related to his Ponzi scheme, it is important to note that prosecutors alleged that senior police officials referred investors to Peralta’s Ponzi scheme. Based on this information, it is very likely that charges of bribery may be forthcoming in Peralta’s future, both for him, and those officials.

Bribery in New York is punishable both for those making the bribe, as well as the individuals receiving the bribe. In either case, depending on what is being exchanged by the parties, bribery in New York constitutes a felony offense. Despite the significant repercussions which attach to bribery charges, New York law provides a defense for bribery to certain individuals. If the monetary amount provided in a bribe was done out of coercion, then the person giving the incentive could exercise the defense, yet this is not a defense for the individual receiving the bribe.

Giving gifts to people of stature within the community can evolve into a bribery allegation if there is some indication of impropriety. This is certainly not an envious position to be in. To defend against a claim of bribery you need to gain the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney like Phillip J. Murphy. Phillip J. Murphy is licensed to practice in New York and has been practicing law since 1989. Contact us today to discuss your options.

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