Massachusetts Bribery Laws, Charges and Statute of Limitations

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Bribery under Massachusetts law is defined as the corrupt payment, receipt or solicitation of a private favor for an official action. This means in practice the exchange of money, goods or services in return for some type of action. Bribery laws are covered under Massachusetts General Laws Part IV Title I Chapter 268A Section 2.

Massachusetts statutes state that bribery can take many different forms. The most common type of bribery that the public is aware of is the bribery of public officials. State law says it is illegal to corruptly give or promise any item of value to an employee of the state, county or municipality with the intent to influence that person’s official acts. The law also states that those who take bribes for these purposes also can be prosecuted.

Another type of bribery is called commercial or private bribery. This type of bribery involves giving payment to a private business person or employee to get that person to act in a certain way in a commercial act. For instance, if a vendor pays cash to a purchasing manager to ensure that vendor’s bid is chosen over others, this is commercial bribery.

Bribery charges also are levied related to sports events. Massachusetts law states it is illegal for a person to promise to pay any amateur or professional athlete to lose a sporting event to obtain monetary gain.

Massachusetts Laws and Penalties

According to state and federal law, both giving and receiving bribes is usually a felony that is punishable by at least one year in state or federal prison.

Commercial bribery often is charged as a misdemeanor and carries a punishment up to one year in jail.

For bribery in sports in Massachusetts, you can get a fine of $1000 and be imprisoned for up to two years. But for bribery of public officials, you can face up to a $100,000 fine and a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Public officials or government employees in Massachusetts who take bribes can be forced to leave office. They may be ineligible to work for the state or federal government in the future. They also may be barred from serving in any state or federal elected or appointed position for life.

Any form of bribery that involves the act of a court of law can also involve obstruction of justice charges. It is common for a federal bribery charge to be made because state boundaries were crossed in the commission of the alleged crime.

Fines for bribery are usually related to the amount of money involved in the alleged crime. In most state and federal cases, the fine does not exceed the amount of the bribe. However, in addition to the fine, 18 USCS 201(b) allows for the defendant to receive up to 15 years in federal prison and be barred permanently from holding public office.

Massachusetts Bribery Defense

A conviction for bribery in federal or state court usually is dependent upon surveillance recordings and other evidence that is gathered without the knowledge of the accused. While this evidence is collected, law enforcement must act within the restraints of the US Constitution, particularly the 4th Amendment that forbids illegal search and seizure. If they fail to follow the law, the evidence collected can be suppressed in court. This means that the evidence may not be used against you.

This allows the defendant the possibility of attacking evidence that was collected improperly according to Constitutional grounds. If enough of the evidence collected is suppressed, the prosecution may have to end the case.

Another major source of evidence in a bribery case is testimony of those who were involved in the alleged scheme or were witnesses. Another common defense strategy is to attempt to discredit the testimony of these individuals. This is usually done with a tough cross examination. If the witness has made statements that are inconsistent or his harboring a bias against you, a good defense attorney may be able to expose this in court.

Massachusetts Statute of Limitations

According to 18 UCC 3285, the statute of limitations for most bribery cases is five years from the data of the alleged offense.

Massachusetts Bribery Cases

  • NCAA Bribery Prosecutors Obtain Cooperation From Team Director — The director of a MA amateur basketball team that was affiliated with Adidas AG has agreed to plead guilty and cooperate with state and federal prosecutors who are investigating an NCAA bribery scandal. Thomas Gassnola entered the plea on March 30 that he made payments to high school student athlete families, in exchange for a commitment to play for certain colleges.
  • Large Quantities of Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee Part of MA Bribery Scandal — A top ranking Massachusetts lawmaker was arrested last month and charged in a 113-count indictment that accused him of running his state senator office as a criminal enterprise that netted him more than $1 million in bribes and kickbacks, according to federal prosecutors. Brian Joyce, 55, was escorted from his home in Westport in December 2017 by the FBI. Joyce is alleged to have taken 700 pounds of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee as one of his bribes.
  • Billionaire Used ‘Tightly Controlled Bribe Scheme’ to Pay Doctors Illegally — Billionaire John Kapoor used a scheme to illegally compensate physicians to help to increase sales of his firm’s opioid-based painkillers, and also attended a meeting where two doctors were offered bribes to prescribe the drugs, according to federal and state prosecutors. The case is being prosecuted in US District Court in Boston.
Geoffrey Nathan, Esq.

About Geoffrey Nathan, Esq.

Geoffrey G Nathan is a top federal crimes lawyer and Chief Editor of He is a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 1988, admitted to practice in both Federal and State courts. If you have questions about your federal case he can help by calling 877.472.5775.