Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino today announced two new initiatives to fight public corruption, including a reward program offering up to $25,000 for tips from the public, as well as a program that offers lower-level defendants in a corruption scheme the potential to avoid prosecution if they reveal the crime to the Attorney General’s Office so more culpable defendants can be prosecuted.
New Jersey has tough anti-corruption laws that provide mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment and parole ineligibility for people who commit crimes that touch upon their public office or employment.
The Attorney General’s Office has utilized these laws in recent years to prosecute major cases involving elected officials, government employees and companies receiving public funds. A critical challenge, however, is securing the initial leads that allow such crimes to be uncovered and prosecuted. The new programs are designed to encourage those with information on corruption to come forward.
“Our whistleblower program strategically allows secondary players in corruption schemes to come clean and avoid prosecution,” Porrino added. “Whether we’re talking about a skilled public worker assigned to act as a personal handyman for his boss, or a contractor asked to pay bribes to a local code inspector, or a corporate employee pressured by executives to make illegal political contributions, we’re offering a way out of such predicaments for those who come forward first and are less culpable.”
“These new programs offer strong incentives for people to come forward confidentially and help us root out public corruption, whether they’re tipsters from the public seeking a reward, or public workers or others seeking to extricate themselves from a corrupt scheme,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice.
“By offering the programs for a limited time, we’re looking for swift results, and we will vigorously pursue every lead.”
“By implementing the Anti-Corruption Reward and Anti-Corruption Whistleblower Programs for a relatively short time frame, we are hoping for quick and decisive action by anyone with knowledge of public corruption by elected officials and government employees,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “The goal of the initiatives is to encourage those to come forward with information that will eventually lead to the prosecution of anyone who engages in these corruption schemes.”
Attorney General Porrino announced the following programs to promote reporting of corruption cases:
Anti-Corruption Reward Program
The Attorney General’s Office is offering a reward of up to $25,000 for tips from the public leading to a conviction for a crime involving public corruption. The reward program will be funded by the Attorney General’s Office using criminal forfeiture funds.
Individuals applying for this reward must provide information about a crime that has not previously been revealed to law enforcement and they must not have participated in the crime.
The reward limit for any case is $25,000. In most cases, only the person who first reports the crime will receive the reward. However, where two or more people provide different information that is material to successfully prosecuting the case, the reward may be apportioned.
The reward is not available to government employees who learn of the crime in the course of their employment if they have an official duty to report such crimes.
Anti-Corruption Whistleblower Program
This program encourages eligible individuals or corporations to self-report their involvement in criminal activity, in return, in appropriate cases, for an agreement by the Attorney General’s Office to waive prosecution of the whistleblower.
Individuals interested in participating in the program can choose initially to report information anonymously and/or through an attorney to determine whether they are a likely candidate for waiver of prosecution under the program. They can then decide whether to proceed with the formal application.
The program is restricted to lower-level participants in a crime who provide information that enables the Attorney General’s Office to charge higher-level defendants. The whistleblower must provide truthful and complete information and must cooperate as required by investigators.
An individual will not be eligible for the program if he or she is an elected official, had a controlling role in the criminal scheme, or enlisted another party to participate in the scheme.
The whistleblower may be subject to forfeiture of public employment depending on the circumstances.
Corporations may apply for the Whistleblower Program only where the criminal activity at issue was committed by employees of the corporation, without the knowledge, acquiescence or participation of the high-level employees, officers, directors or shareholders seeking waiver of prosecution for the corporation, and only where the corporation took prompt action to terminate the illegal activity or report it to law enforcement once it was discovered.
The programs are intended to encourage individuals who have information on public corruption to come forward promptly, so they will be open for a limited time. Both programs will expire on Aug. 1, 2017.
The Attorney General’s Office will keep the identities of applicants to the programs confidential to the fullest extent possible, subject to any statute, rule of court, or judicial decision to the contrary which may require disclosure to certain parties, including, in certain circumstances, a criminal defendant. Applicants to each program may be interviewed by detectives at the discretion of the Division of Criminal Justice. The applicant may also be required to give his or her verbal statement under oath and sign a written memorialization of his or her statement.
Additional information about the two programs can be found posted with this press release on the Attorney General’s Office website: www.njpublicsafety.com.
Individuals may report information and apply for the Anti-Corruption Reward Program or Anti-Corruption Whistleblower Program by one of the following methods:
Call the DCJ hotline 866-TIPS-4CJ to speak with corruption detectives 24 hours/7 days a week;
Visit www.njdcj.org to submit an online report;
Write directly to DCJ at the following address: New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety Division of Criminal Justice 25 Market Street P.O. Box 085 Trenton, NJ 08625-0085