A 54-year-old man, formerly a labor union official out of Oakland, has been arrested on charges of bribery. Local law enforcement officials believe that he was taking kickbacks from persons operating marijuana dispensaries in exchange for favors. He has been fired from the labor union (the cannabis portion of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union) and faces the consequences of an investigation conducted by the FBI.
When officials or other powerful persons accept bribes, it is considered by many to be a betrayal of the people that they represent. More than this, the federal government takes these types of crimes quite seriously. According to 18 U.S. Code 201 (“Bribery of public officials and witnesses”), any person who is a Member of Congress, acting on behalf of the United States government, or simply an official in any capacity or with any function (from Mayors to union reps to jury members) is considered a “public official” and may not legally take bribes. The bribes themselves could come in any form, not just in the cash-stuffed envelopes we often seen in television programs. A bribe could be anything of value; and both the person offering the bribe and the one accepting it could be subject to arrest.
Federal penalties for bribery are harsh. First, you could be subject to fines not in excess of 3 times the amount received (or value thereof). Second, you could spend up to 15 years in a federal facility. Third, you will be barred from ever holding public office in the United States for the rest of your natural life.