Here’s the law again:
BRIBERY NOT INVOLVING PUBLIC SERVANTSThere's a similar law for the person receiving such a bribe.
S 180.00 Commercial bribing in the second degree.
A person is guilty of commercial bribing in the second degree when he confers, or offers or agrees to confer, any benefit upon any employee, agent or fiduciary without the consent of the latter`s employer or principal, with intent to influence his conduct in relation to his employer`s or principal`s affairs.
Commercial bribing in the second degree is a class A misdemeanor.
S 180.03 Commercial bribing in the first degree.
...and when the value of the benefit conferred or offered or agreed to be conferred exceeds one thousand dollars and causes economic harm to the employer or principal in an amount exceeding two hundred fifty dollars.
Commercial bribing in the first degree is a class E felony.
Here are some comments I’ve gotten:
I ran this by narco rangers and they said it's pretty common practice. Same in the Intel division re: terrorists. Vetted by lawyers, those people we depend on for moral rectitude. ... I'd be genuinely shocked if the people who make a living defending criminals haven't already challenged this. It's as old as the hills.I’m rarely shocked, at least not genuinely. (Did you hear that Michael Jackson died!? I mean, he looked so healthy.)
The DEA is not attempting in any way to alter or influence the firm's business transactions, only learn about them in order to build a case against a criminal. ... Compensating a low-level employee for providing the info seems like a sound move, providing it doesn't circumvent 4th Amendment requirements, which is a different concern than bribery.Of course in the past police have also threatened these employees with arrest if they don't "help" the investigation.... But let's ignore that bullying behavior for now and just focus on the use of paying employees as C.I.s to turn over business information they have access to.
There is not debate about "benefit" being offered and the lack of the employer's consent. It all comes down to the last part of the law: “With intent to influence his conduct in relation to his employer`s or principal`s affairs.”
Many businesses--from the phone company to apartment rental agencies to car rentals to self-storage to banks--depend on both implicit and explicit (legal) guarantees or trust and privacy. If a bank or any business was known for low-level employees telling me, after I paid $1,000, about what was going on in the business--information I could not find out simply by standing outside the place, information only an employee has access to--how could that not be "in relation" to the employer’s "affairs"?!
Would it not be a bribe if you had stocks and somebody in the firm managing your stocks, against firm policy, sold your information to a third party? If the owner of the firm wanted to give it, or even be paid for it, that might be his or her right. But it's not a right of the employee. And in the case I'm actually talking about, the owner doesn't want to give the information because turning over customer's information would violate trust and hurt business.
Besides, given past experience, he or she simply doesn't trust the police to snoop around on their whim. That is what we have search warrants for.
Or take this scenario:
What if we asked the liquor store worker the contents of Stone Killa's special orders, because we know when he gets the VSOP it means a party that Friday night where all the local Killas are invited? So we pay the worker and he calls us each week with the special orders, and pay him $50 a week for this. When we collar. The Killas at the party, the liquor store loses all Killa's business for the next eight years...Personally, I think it's clever but also straight-up commercial bribery. Why wouldn't it be? Just because you caught the Killa doesn't really matter with regards to the bribery.
Let’s say you’re the patrol officer responding to a call for commercial bribery (as if). After going, “commercial what!?” you find the entire district down and your supervisor not be disturbed (screwing his mistress or something).
You arrive at the Kim’s Liquor and Kim says his employee was paid money by a private citizen, let’s say me, Peter Moskos, to turn over a list of all the delivery orders or the names on credit cards of something. Let’s say I want this because I’m curious if my wife is spending all my money here. Or I run a rival liquor store and want the database. Or I’m doing academic research. Or I want Stone Killa’s address. Whatever my motives, I don’t think they matter one bit for the legal debate.
The point is I am there, have the business information in my pocket, and confess to giving the employee $1,000 plus one penny for the information. The employee confesses, too. Mr. Kim presents a letter from an angry customer canceling a $251 order (thus meeting both monetary requirements for felony Commercial Bribing in the First Degree).
Mr. Kim, unmoved by our remorse and tears, wants us both locked up. What do you as the responding officer do? Make two easy felony arrests. Case closed.
And if it would be a crime for a private citizen, why would it not be a crime for law enforcement?
[Of course if somebody said, "give me money so I can buy illegal drugs and then use them," it would be considered a crime for most people--but not narcs in the C.I. business--to give money.]
If you dig deeper I am confident you will see that this is law enforcement practice that has been approved of and indemnified by government counsel, and that there is probably even case law that makes this clear.Maybe. I am trying to dig deeper. I just can't see how this wouldn't be commercial bribery. It is against both the letter and the spirit of the law.