When we think of public corruption, most of us think of governors, senators and other high-level government officials engaging in multi-million-dollar fraudulent schemes with tax-payer money. In Chicago, you might think of local Aldermen. Although these common impressions of corruption charges are not unfounded and is unlikely to change anytime soon, it tends to obscure the fact that public corruption is not reserved exclusively for the powerful and influential. It can occur at any level of government.
Public corruption at the local library
According to CBS Local Chicago news online, Calumet City Mayor Thaddeus Jones recently shut down the Calumet City Library in response to an audit that uncovered evidence of theft and fraud. An audit of the library’s finances uncovered evidence of theft and fraud committed by employees of the library.
The mayor’s letter read, “Today I am announcing the temporary shutdown of the Calumet City Public Library. This comes after the discovery of an alleged corruption scheme uncovered through a forensic audit of the library’s finances and operations.”
If the evidence of theft and fraud are substantiated, these library employees are likely to face what is commonly referred to as public corruption charges and could involve potentially serious charges ranging from official misconduct or theft at the state level, or wire, mail, or honest services fraud or theft of government funds at the federal level.
Any government employee can be targeted for public corruption charges
These alleged crimes were not committed by powerful government officials, but allegedly by the library staff. It is critical to note that any government worker, from the most influential official down to those some would never think would be charged with such a crime, can and likely will be if it is uncovered; nobody is immune.
If the case is prosecuted in federal court, the penalties for public corruption can include up to decades in prison, steep fines, and disgorgement of any profit, depending on how the matter is charged. These charges are extremely serious, so make sure you know that you can be investigated, charged and prosecuted for public corruption type crimes, no matter what your role or level of influence in the system. If you believe you are under investigation or are being prosecuted for a so-called public corruption type crime, make sure to hire a criminal defense lawyer experienced in representing individuals in matters like these who can stand between you and government in what will likely be the fight of your life.