Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court)
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court)
Table 1. Criminal Official Corruption Prosecutions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during April 2019 the government reported 51 new official corruption prosecutions.
According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 70 percent over the previous month.
The comparisons of the number of defendants charged with official corruption-related offenses are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (see Table 1).
When monthly 2019 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, the number of filings was up (6.5%).
Prosecutions over the past year are still much lower than they were five years ago.
Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are down 14 percent from levels reported in 2014.
Figure 1. Monthly Trends in Official Corruption Prosecutions
The decrease from the levels five years ago in official corruption prosecutions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1.
The vertical bars in Figure 1
represent the number of official corruption prosecutions of this type recorded on a month-to-month
basis. Where a prosecution was initially filed in U.S. Magistrate Court and then transferred to the U.S. District Court,
the magistrate filing date was used since this provides an earlier indicator of actual trends.
The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so
that natural fluctuations are smoothed out. The one and five-year rates of change in Table 1 and in the sections that follow are all based upon this six-month moving average. To view trends year-by-year rather than month-by-month, see TRAC's annual report series for a broader picture.
Within the broad category of official corruption, cases were classified by prosecutors into more specific types.
Case types within official corruption are
Federal Corruption - Procurement
Federal Corruption - Program
Federal Corruption - Law Enforcement
Federal Corruption - Other
Other Public Corruption
The largest number of prosecutions of these matters in April 2019 was for "Corruption(Govt Off)-Other", accounting for 49 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Corruption(Govt Off)-Local" (17.6%), "Corruption(Govt Off)-Fed Other" (13.7%), "Corruption(Govt Off)-State" (11.8%), "Corruption(Govt Off)-Fed Law Enforcement" (3.9%).
See Figure 2.
The lead investigative agency for official corruption prosecutions in April 2019
was FBI accounting for 75 percent of prosecutions referred.
Other agencies with substantial numbers of official corruption referrals were:
Postal (6% ), DHS (4%), Justice Other (4%), IRS (2%).
See Figure 3.
Figure 2. Specific Types of Prosecutions
Figure 3. Prosecutions by Investigative Agency
Official Corruption Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts
Top Ranked Lead Charges
In April 2019, 2 defendants in official corruption cases for these matters were filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts.
These courts handle less serious
misdemeanor cases, including what are called "petty offenses." In
addition, complaints are sometimes filed in the magistrate courts before
an indictment or information is entered. In these cases, the matter
starts in the magistrate courts and later moves to the district court
where subsequent proceedings take place.
In the magistrate courts in April the most frequently cited lead charge was
Title 18 U.S.C Section 1341 involving "Mail Fraud - Frauds and swindles". This was the lead charge
for 100 percent of all magistrate filings in April.
Official Corruption Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts
In April 2019, 49 defendants in new cases
for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during April there
were an additional 3 defendants whose cases moved from the magistrate
courts to the U.S. district courts after an indictment or information
was filed. The sections which follow cover both sets of cases and
therefore cover all matters filed in district court during April.
Top Ranked Lead Charges
Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of official corruption matters
filed in U.S. District Court during April 2019.
"Firearms; Unlawful acts" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 922) was the most frequent recorded lead charge.
Ranked 2nd in frequency were the lead charges "Bribery of public officials and witnesses" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 201 and "Providing or possessing contraband in prison" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1791.
"Bribery of public officials and witnesses" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 201 was ranked 6 a year ago, while it was ranked 3 five years ago."Providing or possessing contraband in prison" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1791 was ranked 9 a year ago, while it was ranked 5 five years ago.
Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest
increase in prosecutions — up 150 percent — compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 201
that involves " Bribery of public officials and witnesses ".
Compared to five years ago, the largest increase — 36.4 percent — was registered for
prosecutions under " Fraud by wire, radio, or television " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1343 ).
Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest
decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago — down 55.6 percent — was
" Attempt and conspiracy " (Title 21 U.S.C Section 846 ).
Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions — 58.3 percent — was
for filings where the lead charge was " Theft or bribery in programs receiving Fed funds " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 666 ).
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
In April 2019 the Justice Department's case-by-case records show that the government brought 19.2 official corruption prosecutions for every ten million people in the United States.
Understandably, there is great variation in the per capita number of official corruption prosecutions that are filed in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.
The districts registering the
largest number of prosecutions per capita for these matters last month are shown in Table 3.
Districts must have at least 5 official corruption prosecutions to receive a ranking.
Table 3. Top 10 Districts (per ten million people)
The District of Maryland — with 416 prosecutions as compared with 19.2 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States — was the most active during April 2019.
The Eastern District of Arkansas (Little Rock) ranked 2nd.
Recent entrants to the top 10 list were
Maryland , now ranked
, and Eastern District of Arkansas (Little Rock)
In the same order, these districts ranked 17th and 37th one year ago and 35th and .th five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth
in the rate of official corruption prosecutions compared to one year ago — 700 percent — was
This was the same district that had the largest increase — 1100 percent — when compared with five years ago.
Top Ranked District Judges
At any one time, there are about 680 federal District Court judges working in the United States. The judges recorded with the largest number of new official corruption crime cases of this type during April 2019 are shown in Table 4.
A total of 2 out of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of official corruption filings per capita, while the remaining 16 judges were from other districts. (Because of ties, there were a total of 18 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)
Judge James Kelleher Bredar in the District of Maryland ranked 1st with 21 defendants in official corruption cases.
Judge Kristine Gerhard Baker in the Eastern District of Arkansas (Little Rock) ranked 2nd with 5 defendants in official corruption cases.
Judge Max Oliver Cogburn, Jr. in the Western District of North Carolina (Asheville) ranked 3rd with 4 defendants in official corruption cases.