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 August 2020 the government reported 33 new official corruption prosecutions.
According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 65 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 2020 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, the number of filings was down (-40.8%).
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 49.4 percent from levels reported in 2015.
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 August 2020 was for "Corruption(Govt Off)-Local", accounting for 57.6 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Corruption(Govt Off)-Fed Other" (15.2%), "Corruption(Govt Off)-Fed Law Enforcement" (12.1%), "Corruption(Govt Off)-State" (9.1%), "Corruption(Govt Off)-Fed Program" (3%), "Corruption(Govt Off)-Other" (3%).
See Figure 2.
The lead investigative agency for official corruption prosecutions in August 2020
was FBI accounting for 76 percent of prosecutions referred.
Other agencies with substantial numbers of official corruption referrals were:
Justice Other (6% ), Postal (6%), Defense (3%), Education (3%).
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 August 2020, 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 August the most frequently cited lead charge was
Title 18 U.S.C Section 287 involving "False, fictitious or fraudulent claims". This was the lead charge
for 50 percent of all magistrate filings in August.
Official Corruption Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts
In August 2020, 31 defendants in new cases
for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during August 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 August.
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 August 2020.
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US
"Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 371) and "Theft or bribery in programs receiving Fed funds" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 666) were the most frequent recorded lead charges.
Ranked 3rd were "Bribery of public officials and witnesses" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 201 and "RICO - definitions" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1961.
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
In August 2020 the Justice Department's case-by-case records show that the government brought 12.5 official corruption prosecutions for every ten million people in the United States.
Understandably, there is great variation in the 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 of this type last month are shown in Table 3.
The Northern District of Illinois (Chicago) — with 7 prosecutions — was the most active during August 2020.
The District of Puerto Rico ranked 2nd.
Eastern District of Washington (Spokane) is now ranking 3rd.
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 August 2020 are shown in Table 4.
All 20 of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of official corruption filings. (Because of ties, there were a total of 20 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)
Judges Maria Valdez in the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago) and Juan Manuel Perez-Gimenez in the District of Puerto Rico ranked 1st with 4 defendants in official corruption cases.
Judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson in the Eastern District of Washington (Spokane) ranked 3rd with 3 defendants in official corruption cases.