Illegal Business Procedures, Part II

Watch out! More and more business decisions can land you behind bars. Here are a few more to avoid.
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Here are three more scenarios that could be prosecuted as crimes:

Bribery. An influential state legislator offers to introduce legislation that would remove certain business barriers-provided that you and your trade group help him retire his campaign debt. This transaction would count as extortion, illegal under the Hobbs Act, and your contribution would be considered an outright bribe.

Election-law violations. Business owners are allowed to contribute $1,000 per candidate per election, the same as any individual. Corporations may make no contributions at all. If you try to get around that rule by handing your employees $1,000 "bonuses" to contribute to a candidate in their own names, you're guilty of violating federal election laws.

Environmental crimes. Thinking of cutting expenses at your manufacturing plant by abandoning drums of toxic waste in a ravine at night? Under the Clean Water Act and other laws, it's illegal to release certain toxins into surface or ground water. Many environmental protection laws use a standard of "strict liability," where you can be convicted of a crime even if you didn't intend to break the law.

If you think you may be in trouble, call a lawyer who can offer advice and refer you to a criminal defense lawyer if necessary. Don't just ignore the problem-a criminal investigation can take on a life of its own.

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