If you are facing charges of honest services fraud, it can be a difficult and confusing experience. The consequences of an honest services fraud conviction can be severe and costly, ranging from prison time to hefty fines to a permanent criminal record. While honest services fraud can be difficult to defend against, the right attorney with expertise in white-collar crime defense can help build a strong case on your behalf.
In this blog post, we'll explore the legal implications of honest services fraud and discuss why it's important to contact an experienced attorney if you've been accused of this crime.
What Is Honest Services Fraud?
Honest services fraud is a type of white-collar crime in which people abuse their positions of trust for personal gain. It involves depriving someone of the intangible right to honest services, usually through some form of deceit or corruption. The basic elements include a breach of fiduciary duty, deception, and deprivation of an individual's right to honest services. This can consist of bribery, kickbacks, conflicts of interest, self-dealing, embezzlement, and extortion.
At its core, it is an act that prevents someone from providing honest and impartial services due to a hidden financial conflict of interest or other undue influence. Punishment for this crime can range from fines to prison time.
The legal definition of honest services fraud is found in 18 U.S.C. § 1346.
Honest Services Fraud Involving Public Officials
One example of honest services fraud involving a public official is when an elected official accepts bribes in exchange for their influence on government actions. For instance, a mayor who agrees to approve a local development project in exchange for a large sum of money from the developer is guilty of honest services fraud. The mayor has traded his influence over the government decision-making process for financial gain, and this act violates the laws protecting government integrity.
Similarly, public officials can be found guilty of honest services fraud if they fail to disclose conflicts of interest that could affect their decision-making process. A city council member who votes to award a contract to her son's company without disclosing the familial relationship is also engaging in illegal activity. Honest services fraud can result in serious penalties for public officials, including criminal prosecution with hefty fines and potential imprisonment.
Penalties Associated with Conviction
Honest services fraud is a serious offense that comes with harsh penalties, including significant fines and jail time. A conviction can result in up to 20 years in federal prison or up to 30 years if the offense affects a financial institution. Additionally, if convicted, fines can be up to $1,000,000, depending on the nature of the alleged violation. Furthermore, individuals who have committed honest services fraud may be subject to forfeiture of the allegedly ill-gotten gains, including property and assets. If the convicted party is a public official, they may also lose their position.
Ultimately, it is important for those who have been accused or charged with this type of crime to speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible to get assistance in understanding the potential consequences they may face if convicted.
Potential Defense Strategies
Crucial to the prosecution’s case is proving that the defendant not only owed a fiduciary duty to the parties harmed, but that they participated in the alleged activity knowingly and with the intent to defraud. A potential defense could be found in adducing evidence to the contrary, such as demonstrating that no fiduciary responsibility or duty existed between the defendant and the parties allegedly harmed. Similarly, showing that any money involved in the transaction was received as compensation for services provided within a legitimate business relationship may be another good option for you.
An alternative honest services fraud defense strategy is to argue that the accused was unaware of any violation of their fiduciary duty or obligation of loyalty. This would require the defendant to demonstrate that they were not aware of any conflict of interest concerning their actions and did not act with intent to defraud or deceive.
At the end of the day, a defendant in an honest services fraud case may have the best chance at acquittal if they can demonstrate that their actions were motivated by good faith and without ill intent towards victims.
How We Can Help
At Brad Bailey Law, we understand how terrifying it can be to face criminal charges, especially ones as serious as honest services fraud charges. Not only are your career and financial stability at risk, but your freedom is as well. Our law firm has helped many clients in similar positions, and we are prepared to use our experience and knowledge to help you with your case.
If you were accused or arrested for honest services fraud, your first step should be to seek legal representation as soon as possible. Honest services fraud cases are incredibly complex, but with the guidance of a skilled lawyer, like ours at Brad Bailey Law, you can build a defense you feel confident in. Contact our Boston-based law firm online today to schedule a consultation.