Clifton Sanders (41) and Ajamu Stewart (54), former employees of the Department of Public Health in San Francisco, have been charged with felony bribery. The two former officials allegedly demanded payments from restaurant managers in order to grant them certification. More than 350 restaurants have been implicated in the scam.
The Modus Operandi
Stewart and Sanders implemented their scheme over the course of 18 months from 2007-2008. They were caught thanks to a tip given to the health department by a restaurant whistleblower. They notified the San Francisco City attorney office after which, the case became the province of the district attorney. Both men were fired from their jobs and the certifications they had distributed were declared null and void.
In return for their services, restaurant managers reportedly paid the duo $100 – $200.
Who Will be Prosecuted?
Prosecution for the case will be tricky as there are several employees of restaurants who paid Sanders and Stewart believing that the fees were a normal part of the certification process. According to the authorities, these people will not be prosecuted.
Both men have pleaded not guilty to several charges, which include falsifying records and bribery. If they are convicted of these crimes, each of the men could face more than 8 years in jail.
Bribery: What Does it Entail?
Section 201, Chapter 11 of Title 18 in the US Code, mentions that public figures of authority or office holders, who seek, receive or accept funds, services or anything valuable in exchange for performing corrupt practices using the law is guilty of committing bribery. The law also includes those who are influenced into committing or aiding someone else to commit fraud or to neglect to perform one’s official duty or role.
Those found guilty of felony bribery can face up to 10 years in prison along with a fine amounting to maximum $250,000. Post release, they will also face three years of probation.