What’s the payoff?
Remember when the University of Southern California was accused of being involved in a bribery scheme that rocked elite college campuses across the nation? Or when federal agents raided Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar’s office looking for evidence related to bribery and other crimes, but still haven’t charged him?
While these were federal crimes, there are a number of local bribery cases in Los Angeles as well.
From Jan. 1, 2010 – Aug. 31, 2019, there were 521 reported crimes that involved bribery. For these 521, bribery was not the main crime. The main crimes in these reports were crimes such as assault with a deadly weapon or theft, for example. During the same time period — Jan. 1, 2010 – Aug. 31, 2019 — there were 32 reported crimes where bribery was the main crime, according to publicly available LAPD data.
Bribery is an effort to corruptly influence with money a public official in the course of that official’s work, according to California law.
So far this year, there have been two reported crimes where bribery was the main crime and 23 reported crimes involving bribery in the City of Los Angeles.
One reported case where the LAPD listed bribery as the crime involved a 30-year-old black male victim at 10 p.m. on Aug. 16 on the 1700 block of Wilcox Ave. in Hollywood. The suspect met the victim on the internet or chat room and then extorted money from him.
We should note that for bribery cases, money is leveraged. Extortion cases involve fear, according to California law.
Those who try to influence a public official by giving them money are likely to get away with it. According to LAPD’s publicly available data, 77% of cases involving bribery from Jan. 1 – Aug. 31, 2019 are classified as “investigation continues.” But, that’s actually true of most crimes: 83.5% of all reported crimes from Jan. 1 – Aug. 31, 2019 are listed as “investigation continues.”
Detective Meghan Aguilar, a public information officer for the LAPD, said that that means no one has been arrested yet for the crime.
For the first eight months of 2019, neighborhoods such as Beverly Crest, Pacoima and Sawtelle were the biggest offenders for crimes involving bribery. Beverly Crest, which only had one crime involving bribery in the first eight months of 2018, had nine reported crimes during the first eight months of this year, a 500% increase.
The neighborhood of Beverly Crest has a median household income of nearly $170K, according to the Los Angeles Times neighborhood map. The Westside neighborhoods of Brentwood and Cheviot Hills, which also made the top list so far this year, boast similar incomes.
How we did it: We examined LAPD publicly available data on reported crimes that involved bribery and reported crimes that listed bribery as the main crime. We looked at data dating back to Jan. 1, 2010, when the LAPD crime data became publicly available. For neighborhood boundaries, we rely on the borders defined by the Los Angeles Times. Learn more about our data here.
LAPD data only reflect crimes that are reported to the department, not how many crimes actually occurred. In making our calculations, we rely on the data the LAPD makes publicly available. On occasion, LAPD may update past crime reports with new information, or recategorize past reports. Those revised reports do not always automatically become part of the public database.
Want to know how your neighborhood fares? Or simply just interested in our data? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.