11.01.2009 Examining the “Honest Services” Statute
11. 2009So what did Congress mean when it enacted the “honest services” statute? If you’re not familiar with this federal law, you’ve certainly read about its application in the news. It’s a statute prosecutors used against former Enron executive Jeff Skilling, former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, Mississippi judge Bobby Delaughter, lobbyist Jack Abramoff, various congressmen, and even students who schemed with their professors to turn in plagiarized work. In fact, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that federal prosecutors in Los Angeles are investigating Cardinal Roger Mahoney and other top church officials for “honest services” fraud, alleging that by failing to remove accused priests and notify authorities of charges against them, Mahony deprived parishioners of “the intangible right of honest services.” The “honest services” statute functions more like a runaway locomotive than as a prosecutorial tool intended to rein in public corruption.
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