Under the Penal Code’s definition of “bribe,” a promise to make a payment to a third party or entity may constitute a bribe. In 2020, a grand jury indicted the Santa Clara County Undersheriff and Captain for soliciting bribes, and Moyer (Apple’s head of global security) with bribing an executive officer. The indictment was based on evidence the Undersheriff and Captain issued concealed carry weapon (CCW) licenses (which were rarely issued) to Apple’s executive protection team after Moyer offered to donate $50,000 worth of iPads to the Sherriff’s Office. Moyer moved to dismiss the count against him and the trial court granted the motion based on insufficiency of the evidence. The People appealed. On appeal, Moyer defended the trial court’s ruling and also argued that he could not be charged with bribery based on a promise to give a thing of value to a third party (the Sheriff’s Office) rather than to the target of the bribe (the Undersheriff and Captain). Held: Reversed. The word “bribe” “signifies anything of value or advantage, present or prospective, or any promise or undertaking to give any, asked, given, or accepted, with a corrupt intent to influence, unlawfully, the person to whom it is given, in his or her action, vote, or opinion, in any public or official capacity.” (Pen. Code, § 7, subd. (6).) While the payment prong requires that the target of the bribe receive a “[t]hing of value or advantage,” the promise prong requires only that the target receive a promise to make a payment, not a promise that the target, rather than some other party, will receive a payment. If a personal receipt requirement were implied into the promise prong, executive officials would be free to demand payments to their relatives or friends in exchange for official actions without fear of prosecution for bribery. This interpretation is not unconstitutional, where Moyer had fair warning based on longstanding judicial construction of California’s bribery statutes, federal law, and the laws of many other states.
Sufficient evidence supported the grand jury’s finding of “corrupt intent” under the bribery statute. The People challenged the trial court’s determination that the evidence of corrupt intent before the grand jury was insufficient to support an indictment. The Court of Appeal concluded there was sufficient evidence. Under section 995, an indictment must be dismissed if the grand jury indicted the defendant “without reasonable or probable cause.” The evidentiary showing needed to satisfy the “reasonable or probable cause” standard is “exceedingly low.” Drawing all legitimate inferences in favor of the indictment, there was sufficient circumstantial evidence to create a strong suspicion that Moyer promised to donate iPads to the Sheriff’s Office with a corrupt intent to influence the Undersheriff to release Apple’s CCW licenses. This evidence showed that the Undersheriff used CCW licenses to extract favors, that he released Apple’s CCW licenses only after Moyer promised to make the donation of iPads, and that Moyer’s subsequent actions displayed a consciousness of guilt.