San Pablo, CA asked in Criminal Law, Federal Crimes and White Collar Crime for California

Q: The college admissions scandal. How is it a crime to bribe a coach at a private college to gain admission?

My understanding is that one of the elements is that it must involve a public official or someone who has a "legal duty". "Public official" is not at issue here. The definition of "legal duty" appears to be "an obligation to obey the law." That is hardly illuminating, as that definition applies to everyone, not a subset of individuals who have a duty that is distinct from the population at large.

Example: My handyman tells me he has another project scheduled before mine. I tell him that I will give him $100 if he bumps the scheduled project down the calendar and works on mine first. He accepts, the deal is struck, and he informs the other client (falsely) that a current project is taking longer than expected and, therefore, his project must be postponed.

Has a crime been committed? If not, what is the difference between this example and a college coach accepting a bribe to write a letter to Admissions Office falsely claiming the applicant is an athlete?

1 Lawyer Answer

Marc David Pelta

Answered
  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: There are federal crimes involved here because the activities crossed states lines. If you read the various articles about it, they explain what federal crimes are being charged in these cases. It is a good question.

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