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Corrupt Intentions: Bribery, Unlawful Gratuity, and Honest-Services Fraud

21 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2012 Last revised: 9 Sep 2012

Alex Stein

Brooklyn Law School

Date Written: January 8, 2012


This Article develops an economic understanding of bribery, unlawful gratuity, and honest-services fraud offenses. Given the inherently transactional and private nature of these offenses, courts should elicit the parties’ intent from the economics of their exchange. When the exchange yields the parties a benefit not available on the open market, then - depending on the exchange’s particulars - it constitutes bribery, unlawful gratuity, or honest-services fraud. Based on this simple insight, I criticize the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence of criminal corruption.

Keywords: criminal law, bribery, illegal gratuity, honest services fraud, corruption, economic analysis, economics

JEL Classification: K00, K14

Suggested Citation

Stein, Alex, Corrupt Intentions: Bribery, Unlawful Gratuity, and Honest-Services Fraud (January 8, 2012). Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 75, 2012; Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 364. Available at SSRN:

Alex Stein (Contact Author)

Brooklyn Law School ( email )

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States
718-780-0615 (Phone)

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