Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Limiting the Scope of Sun Diamond

The Second Circuit issued an opinion in the case of U.S. v. Ganim, a case with multiple convictions including RICO, honest services mail fraud, bribery under section 666, conspiracy, and tax. In affirming the conviction, the court held that "the government was not required to prove a direct link between a benefit Ganim received and a specific act he performed, so long as the government proved that Ganim received benefits in exchange for his agreement to perform specific official acts or to do so as the opportunities arose."  Ganim, the former mayor of Bridgeport, Conn. was sentenced to 108 months imprisonment.

The most fascinating aspect of the opinion pertains to whether proof "of a government official's promise to perform a future, but unspecified, official act is sufficient to demonstrate the requisite quid pro quo for a conviction."  The defendant attempted to use the case of U.S. v. Sun-Diamond to argue "that a specific act be identified and directly linked to a benefit at the time the benefit is received."  Thus, the defense was claiming that the Sun Diamond case, a gratuities case, should be extended to bribery under section 666.  The Second Circuit, however, rejected this argument after examining the difference between the two statutes and the policy rationale in Sun Diamond for distinguishing between legal and illegal gratuities.  The court states that the limiting principle found in Sun Diamond is not needed in the context of this bribery statute. The next question will likely be whether the Supreme Court thinks that an extension of Sun Diamond to bribery under 666 merits review.



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