APRIL 21, 2008
The federal agency in charge of weeding out public corruption reports that incidents are on the rise, with an unprecedented surge in investigations in the last few years.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reveals that there has been an unheard of 50% increase in public corruption probes in the last five years with agents currently working on 2,500 cases involving wrongdoing by public or elected officials.
Emphasizing that democracy and corruption cannot coexist, FBI Director Robert Mueller disclosed that his agency has shifted much of its focus to combat public corruption since it is rampant nationwide. He pointed out that in the past two years alone nearly 20,000 public officials have been convicted.
While some cases are high-profile because they feature prominent politicians in major cities or big states, many of the public corruption probes include small-town officials or public employees that have none the less cheated taxpayers or endangered their communities.
Recent examples include nearly two dozen officials from a small North Carolina sheriff’s office guilty of drug conspiracy, racketeering and fraud; a Georgia state legislator guilty of laundering proceeds from the sale of cocaine and nearly 70 military and law enforcement personnel in Arizona who accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for smuggling drugs, money and illegal immigrants into the U.S.
Recent cases that received more national media coverage include a Louisiana congressman (William Jefferson) caught with a $90,000 cash bribe in his freezer, a Detroit mayor (Kwame Kilpatrick) who settled a multi million-dollar lawsuit and lied under oath to hide an extramarital affair with a city employee, a Newark mayor (Sharpe James) convicted for getting his young mistress heavily discounted public property and an ousted presidential cabinet member (HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson) who gave his friends lucrative government contracts.
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