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Name: People v. Biane
Case #: S207250
Court: CA Supreme Court
District CalSup
Opinion Date: 12/23/2013
Summary

The offeror of a bribe may be charged with aiding and abetting the recipient’s receipt of the bribe, as well as conspiracy to receive the bribe, when the offeror’s conduct goes beyond merely offering or paying a bribe. An indictment charged defendants Burum and his agent Erwin with using threats, intimidation, and coercion to aid and abet the receipt of bribes by members of a county board of supervisors. It was also alleged that the defendants conspired with the supervisors and others to have the bribes accepted in exchange for the supervisors’ approval of a settlement between Burum’s company and the county. The Court of Appeal sustained various demurrers finding that the payor of a bribe cannot aid or abet the receipt of the same bribe, or conspire to commit that offense. The Supreme Court reversed. “Neither the offer nor payment of a bribe in itself can establish that the offeror aided and abetted the separate crime of receiving the same bribe,” but the defendant’s status as offeror/payor does not “disqualify that person” from “complicity in the offense of receiving the bribe” “if he engaged in additional conduct to aid, promote, encourage, or instigate the commission of that crime, with knowledge of the bribe recipient’s unlawful purpose and with the intent or purpose of committing, encouraging, or facilitating the commission of the recipient’s offense.” Similarly, the payor/offeror’s status as such does not disqualify him from being charged with conspiracy to accept the same bribe, because, although the giver and receiver of a bribe may have different intents, they may also share a common unlawful purpose. Here, the defendants participated in a conspiracy that was more elaborate than an agreement that a particular bribe be accepted; it involved the conduct of numerous parties in an effort to influence at least three supervisors to approve a $102 million dollar settlement.