Federal program fraud statute, 18 U.S.C.A. § 666

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As you saw in the text, “agents” of state entities that receive federal funds who commit fraud or bribery violate the federal program fraud statute, 18 U.S.C.A. § 666.

Exactly who qualifies as an agent for purposes of the act? Must a person in some fashion be responsible for the funds granted to the state entity?

Consider two cases:

(1) State judges accept bribes from lawyers arguing cases before the judges. The judges are officers of the courts, and the state courts have received federal funds. However, the judges have nothing to do with control or disbursement of those funds. Can they be convicted under § 666?

(2) A county zoning official falsified documents he used to obtain a low-income housing grant. The county had received federal funds under a federal assistance program. The defendant was a county official, but had nothing to do with disbursement of the county funds. Can he be convicted under § 666?

What appears to be the “split” among the federal circuit courts of appeal?

Do you think the Supreme Court should resolve that split?

If the Supreme Court agrees to hear a case to resolve the “split,” how do you think they should rule?  Provide a legal argument for your answer.

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