Damico & Stockstill, Attorneys at Law

Ex-director at Louisiana State University sentenced for bribery

Paying someone to do something becomes illegal when the purpose of the transaction is to influence a government official or employee. A deal involving the offer and acceptance of money, services or other favors to sway behavior is bribery. The altered action does not have to be detrimental to the public for the exchange to be called a white collar crime.

An ex-assistant lab director at Louisiana State University was sentenced recently for his part in a kickback scheme favoring a lab products' supplier. The 69-year-old defendant was accused of making a deal with the owner of Sangre Biologicals to supply the Human Leukocyte Antigen laboratory at the university's Health Sciences Center. The man allegedly received cash by mail to ensure the company received orders from the school.

As a director at the government-funded school, the Shreveport man had the power to authorize up to $5,000 in payments for lab supplies. Investigators claimed the defendant received approximately $117,000 between 2001 and 2008 to make sure Sangre Biologicals remained a primary supplier. As a result, the company received over $540,000 in business from Louisiana State University.

Authorities said the kickback money was deposited into the defendant's credit union account. The defendant was found guilty of mail fraud and sentenced to an 18-month prison term, with three years of court supervision following his release. A Louisiana federal judge also ordered the man to pay $200,000 in restitution.

The individual who offers a bribe can be found as guilty of wrongdoing as the person who accepts one. The owner of Sangre Biologicals was charged and convicted of the same crime. She will be sentenced in late January.

To prove bribery, prosecutors often must show the defendant knowingly participated in a corrupt practice for personal gain. A criminal defense attorney who can introduce an element of doubt into a bribery case may succeed in gaining an acquittal.

Source: The Times, "Former LSUHSC lab director sent to prison" Nov. 10, 2014

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