By: James W. Kraus
The practice of lobbying and government relations, particularly on behalf of companies doing business with the government, has long been a focus of DOJ investigators and prosecutors. They are known to look skeptically at the purpose of “consulting fees,” particularly when those consulting fees appear to be spun into political contributions. One recent example is the case of lobbyist John P. Raphael, in a matter involving conduit contributions to elected officials in Ohio. Raphael agreed last Friday to plead guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to an information charging him with violation of the Hobbs Act.
According to the government, from March 2005 to February 2013, Mr. Raphael served as a lobbyist for RedFlex Traffic Systems, a vendor for red light traffic enforcement cameras. RedFlex apparently engaged Raphael to seek and obtain contracts for the Cities of Columbus and Cincinnati. At the time of his plea, Raphael admitted that he solicited campaign contributions from RedFlex on behalf of elected officials in Columbus and Cincinnati, and repeatedly pressured and induced the company to make contributions by advising the company that it would lose its contracts if it did not. The campaign contributions, which totaled more than $70,000 during this time period, were then funneled through Raphael in his own name and in the names of his family members and business associates.
In June, the former CEO of RedFlex, Karen Finley, pleaded guilty in the same case to an information charging her with conspiracy to commit Federal Programs Bribery and Honest Services Wire and Mail Fraud. In August, Finley also entered a plea of guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to similar charges regarding a $2 million bribery scheme in Chicago. The investigation in that case resulted in charges against Chicago city officials as well.
Neither Raphael nor Finley have been sentenced yet. No officials from the Cities of Columbus or Cincinnati have been charged in this case. According to the government release regarding the plea of Mr. Raphael, the investigation remains ongoing.
James W. Kraus, of Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP, has been selected as the recipient of the DRI’s Albert H. Parnell Outstanding Program Chair Award which will be presented during the DRI Annual Meeting on October 17 in Chicago, Illinois. This award honors a program chair who created a dynamic educational program enhancing… Read more »Read More
James W. Kraus has been appointed to serve as the Chair of the Directors and Officers Coverage Subcommittee of the Defense Research Institute’s (DRI) Government Enforcement and Corporate Compliance Committee (GECC). DRI is the largest international membership organization of attorneys defending the interests of business and individuals in civil litigation. The GECC provides opportunities for education… Read more »Read More
Nationally-recognized qui tam attorney, Marc S. Raspanti, will be speaking at the Federal Bar Association’s 2020 Qui Tam Conference in Washington, DC on Thursday, February 27, 2020. This two-day conference will feature experienced FCA litigators from a variety of perspectives who will dive into advanced topics and discuss emerging trends and key developments pertaining to… Read more »Read More
Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP Partner Michael A. Morse will be presenting at the Pennsylvania Bar Institute’s (“PBI”) Health Law Institute on March 11-12, 2020. Mr. Morse’s session topic is, “Preparing for the Fight of Your Life: Anatomy of a Health Care Fraud Prosecution.” The PBI notes that the Health Law Institute is,… Read more »Read More