Federal Bribery Charges: What You Need To Know

American flag and gavel depicting federal bribery charges

What is federal bribery? This particular crime is outlined in federal statute 18 U.S.C. § 666, although there’s nothing uncanny about it.

Federal program bribery is also called program fraud or theft. It is a serious crime that carries serious charges.

Former Wayne County Airport Authority official James Warner of Commerce Township has just found this out the hard way in May. He learned this after not getting away with what he and his partners were doing for more than 4 years.

What Mr. Warner did was make inflated work invoices for maintenance contracts at the airport. His friend, and now co-defendant, William Pritula was the one contracted to complete the work. He then shared the profits with Warner.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Warner and Pritula walked away with $10 million in a four year period. It wasn’t the only scheme Warner had concocted.

After 2014, Warner left the WCAA and started working for the Water and Sewer Department of West Bloomfield Township. There, he had proposed continuing the schemes he had begun at the WCAA.

The Attorney’s office is calling this one of the largest bribes ever seen in Detroit Federal Court. In addition, law enforcement has seized $11.4 million in criminal proceeds related to the schemes.

The Law and Federal Bribery

According to the Department of Justice,

(this law) “prohibits the embezzlement, stealing, obtaining by fraud or otherwise unauthorized conversion to the use of any person other than the rightful owner or the intentional misapplication of property having a value of $5,000 or more by an agent, typically an employee, of an organization or of a state, local or Indian tribal government agency that receives $10,000 or more annually in Federal assistance.”

In the past, some crimes of this nature couldn’t be prosecuted properly because of stolen funds having become “so commingled that their federal character could not be shown.”

Because the federal government provides vast sums of money through federal programs, this law was enacted to protect that money from those who would use their positions in federally funded programs to steal it.

Penalties for Federal Bribery

Mr. Warner was also charged with obstructing justice when he altered a document during the FBI investigation into his case. In Mr. Warner’s case, according to an article published by Mlive:

“Each theft and bribery charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Each of the money laundering conspiracy counts carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

The bribery and theft conspiracy counts carry a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The obstruction of justice count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.”

According to the Department of Justice, “the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 10 years and a fine of the greater of $100,000 or twice the amount obtained in violation of the section.”


In conclusion, federal bribery or theft charges do carry a severe penalty. Chances are good that you will face more than one charge if you are involved in a scheme like the one carried out by Mr. Warner.

However, there is hope. You will need a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing charges of this nature.

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