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by Peter Moskos

June 24, 2009

The fine line between confidential informant and bribe

A friend of mine, who only wants to be broadly identified as being in a form of "real estate business" in New York City, routinely complains to me about police trying, without a search warrant, to bully and threaten his employees in order to gain access to clients' private property or information on someone or something.

My friend is more than happy, even eager, to work legally with law enforcement. In the same law-abiding spirit, he has a very healthy respect for the Bill of Rights, the 4th Amendment in particular.

Well I get this email today:
Yesterday, a DEA agent tried to bribe one of my employees to provide him with access to customer information and to provide tips in the future.

I was pretty pissed. We always cooperate on this stuff to the letter of the law. Then the agent asked to speak to the employee in private and pulled this stunt.
$1,000 was the amount offered, probably dependent on future information.

It's dirty, but as long as the employee was properly signed up as a confidential informant and there was paperwork for it all, it could all be legal and by the book.

I asked why he thought the employee didn't take the money. My friend said three reasons: "1. He's a good guy; 2. He knows we always follow the law; 3. He knows we'd fire him if we found out."


Marc S. said...

Sounds like a case of commercial bribery, which, at least in my state, will get you a few years...unless you're above the law.

PCM said...

Thanks, Marc. I think you're absolutely right.

I guess the beat cop in me doesn't know the law.

I found this for New York State.

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.