The new Act, designated the Public Trust Act, would establish a new class of public corruption crimes, tough new penalties on offenders, require public officials to report bribery
Calling the current State laws defining public corruption in New York obsolete and far less effective than federal statutes for prosecuting individuals who commit public corruption crimes, the Governor said that the Public Trust Act would establish a new class of public corruption crimes and expand the current definitions of public corruption offenses to enable prosecutors to hold accountable those who violate public trust.
The proposed new class of Public Corruption Crimes would include the following crimes: bribing a public servant, corrupting the government, and failing to report a bribe or a bribe attempt.
I. New Crimes for Violating Public Trust
Bribery of a Public Servant: The proposed legislation would expand the current state bribery statute to give prosecutors additional tools to convict offenders. Under current state law, a prosecutor has to prove that there was a corrupt agreement or understanding between the person paying the bribe and the person receiving the bribe. This is not required under federal law and is an unduly heavy burden. Under the new Public Servant Bribery provision, a prosecutor would only have to prove that the person paying the bribe “intended” to influence the public official or that the person receiving it intended to be so influenced, bringing state law in line with the federal standard. Bribery penalties would be increased, lowering the threshold for a Class C felony from $10,000 to $5,000, the amount of money used to bribe, and to $10,000 and above for a Class B felony.
Corrupting the Government: The proposed legislation would hold accountable anyone – whether or not they are a public official – who is found to have engaged in defrauding the government. The proposed legislation also enhances penalties for all offenders convicted of defrauding the government through the crime of Corrupting the Government.
Failure to Report Public Corruption: The proposed legislation would for the first time make it a misdemeanor for any public official or employee to fail to report bribery.
II. Tough New Penalties for Misuse of Taxpayer Dollars
New Penalties for Public Corruption: The proposed legislation would create new penalties for offenses such as any kind of fraud, theft, or money laundering offense involving state or local government property. This means an offender would face a higher penalty if the act was committed against the government. The sentence would be one level higher than for the underlying offense. For example, if the underlying offense (e.g. larceny) was a class D felony, then the involvement of state or local government property would increase the sentence to the class C felony. The specific existing crimes affected are those defined by the following provisions of the Penal Law:
· grand larceny
· unauthorized use of a computer
· unauthorized use of a vehicle
· money laundering
Increased Penalties for Official Misconduct: Under current law, Official Misconduct is a misdemeanor. The proposed legislation creates three new degrees of Official Misconduct: a Class E felony (maximum penalty 4 years), Class D felony (maximum penalty 7 years) and Class C felony (maximum penalty 15 years).
III. Lifetime Ban from Government
The new class of felony public corruption crimes would impose additional penalties, apart from jail sentences and criminal fines, including:
IV. Fixing the Statute of Limitations:
V. Additional Tools for Prosecutors: