Help From a Fort Lauderdale Bribery Lawyer
In Florida, it is illegal for people to bribe public officials and for officials to accept bribes in exchange for abusing their offices. This includes accessing and disseminating confidential information of people different governmental agencies serve. Recently, two Broward County Sheriff’s Office employees and a bail bondsman were charged with multiple felony offenses for allegedly engaging in public corruption. Fort Lauderdale bribery lawyer Kenneth Hassett represents people facing serious felony offenses, including white-collar crimes like bribery.
Jail Employees and Bail Bondsman Charged With Felonies
Two employees of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and a bail bondsman were all arrested and charged with several felony offenses on Feb. 23, 2022, following a lengthy investigation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation received an anonymous tip and told the Public Corruption Unit of the Broward County Sheriff’s Office in Feb. 2019 that one or more employees were giving confidential information about inmates in the jail to a Fort Lauderdale bail bondsman.
The sheriff’s office investigated and found that two inmate asset specialists employed at the jail had been accessing the emergency contact information of inmates held in the jail from the jail’s database. The two women, including a 48-year-old and a 54-year-old, allegedly provided the emergency contact information for inmates who had been arrested to the bail bondsman in exchange for small gifts and cash. The bondsman would then contact the inmates’ friends and family members to solicit business. The 48-year-old woman had worked for the sheriff’s office for 21 years, and the 54-year-old woman had worked for the sheriff’s office for 25 years. They were both charged with multiple felony offenses, including receiving illegal compensation for official acts, unlawfully using computer systems or networks, and receiving the benefits of bail bonds as employees of a jail. They were both suspended from their jobs without pay.
The bail bondsman was also arrested and was charged with several offenses. He was charged with two counts of first-degree bribery as a principal, two counts of illegally accessing or using computer systems or networks, and providing jail employees with the benefits of bail bonds.
Severity of the Charges
Under § 838.016, Fla. Stat. (2021), it is a crime for a public official to accept any type of gift or money in exchange for misusing his or her office and performing an act that violates the law. It is also illegal for someone to offer bribes to a public official to try to get him or her to perform an illegal act. In Florida, bribery is a second-degree felony that carries up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, and up to 15 years of probation.
It is also a second-degree felony to access a computer, computer network, or computer system without legal authorization under § 816.06, Fla. Stat. (2021). This offense carries up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, and up to 15 years of probation. While the bail bondsman was not the person who accessed the jail’s computer system, he was charged with two counts of this offense as a principal for soliciting the two jail employees to do so.
Under § 648.44, Fla. Stat. (2021), bail bondsmen are prohibited from paying fees or giving anything of value to a jail employee in exchange for soliciting a bail bond, and jail employees are prohibited from benefitting from bail bonds for inmates. This is a third-degree felony that carries up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
While these offenses are serious and carry the potential for many years in prison, it is still possible to defend against them and potentially secure favorable plea offers. People who are facing serious charges alleging public corruption or bribery should get help from an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact an Experienced Fort Lauderdale Bribery Lawyer
If you are facing similar charges, you should speak to an experienced Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer at Hassett & Associates, P.A. as soon as possible. Attorney Kenneth Hassett has more than 30 years of experience defending people charged with all levels of criminal offenses, including serious felonies and white-collar crimes. Contact us today for a consultation by calling (954) 791-3939.