Well, the elections are over and I want to thank all of those that participated in the most important process of our country. With that said, over the last couple of months I have received emails from many of you, regarding some of the articles that were printed regarding public corruption and what is being done about it.
Therefore, as in the past, I turned to our FBI partners to give us a synopsis of how they handle these situations, what is done and what you as a resident can do. This is not an easy task, but I hope after you read this you will have a better understanding.
I want to thank Supervisory Special Agent John Bernardo, a 13-year veteran of the FBI, who leads one of FBI Miami’s public corruption squads, for providing the information below.
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One of the highest priorities of the FBI is investigating public corruption. This type of crime is a breach of the public’s trust by government officials and/or private individuals who use their public office for personal gain. Without this trust, our belief in a democratic society wanes and the fabric of our community begins to break down.
Our society entrusts government agencies to perform many vital functions, such as securing our borders, protecting our neighborhoods and handing down verdicts in court cases. During fiscal year 2012, FBI Miami’s public corruption task forces arrested 50 individuals, indicted 42, and assisted with the conviction of 45 people on public corruption charges. Many of these cases were brought to the attention of the FBI by tips from the public.
Public corruption involves illegal activity conducted at all levels of government. It can include corruption within law enforcement, legislative bodies, city or town governments, the judicial system, with contracts or regulatory issues, or the prison system. These types of corruption typically involve the payment of bribes or kickbacks in exchange for official action or inaction.
The FBI also investigates election fraud and campaign finance fraud. Election fraud entails interfering with a citizen’s right to vote or ballot tampering. Campaign finance fraud involves individuals who attempt to circumvent the limits individuals can contribute to election campaigns.
The FBI is singularly situated to combat this corruption with the skills and capabilities to run complex undercover operations and surveillance. Further, FBI Miami has established several public corruption task forces in partnership with many state and local law-enforcement agencies.
It is a violation of federal law for any federal or state government official to ask for or receive anything of value for or because of any official act. Under federal law, the person who offers or pays a bribe is also guilty. Because of the secretive nature of bribes, such crimes are often difficult to detect and even more difficult to prove without the assistance of concerned citizens. As a result, the FBI has set up a public corruption hotline for public tips at 877-628-2533. You also can contact the local FBI office by phone at 305-944-9101 or via email PublicCorruptionMiami@ic.fbi.gov.
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In closing I want us to remember our veterans today, those that are still with us and those who gave their lives for us to be free!