Middle District of PA Holds Quid Pro Quo Not Necessary To Charge Violation of 18 U.S.C. §666

November 27, 2012

1035691_money_in_hand.jpg18 U.S.C. §666(a)(1)(B) prohibits, among other things, state government officials from accepting anything of value with an intent to be influenced or rewarded in connection with business related to the state government. There is a split amongst the circuits as to whether a conviction under §666 requires that the official actually confer some benefit in return for the payment (e.g., a quid pro quo). The Fourth and Second Circuits have held that a conviction under §666 requires a quid pro quo. The Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Eleventh Circuits have held that a conviction under §666 does not require a quid pro quo. The Third Circuit has not ruled on this issue.

On November 21, 2012, Judge A. Richard Caputo, United States District Judge for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, held that no such quid pro quo is necessary:

The text of §666 only requires Defendants to accept or agree to accept anything of value with the intent to be influenced or rewarded in connection with any business or transaction...

The case, United States v. Musto, Case No.: 3:10-CR-338, involves charges against a former Pennsylvania State Senator, Ray Musto, who was indicted for accepting more than $28,000 from a construction company that sought preferential treatment in relation to certain state financed projects. The construction company at issue (although not named in the indictment) has subsequently been identified as Mericle Construction, whose principal, Robert K. Mericle, pled guilty in 2009 for a crime related to the corruption cases against former Luzerne County Judges Michael T. Conahan and Mark A. Ciavarella. In their motion to dismiss, Musto's attorneys argued that the indictment was factually insufficient because it did not plead that Mericle Construction received anything in return for the money that it allegedly paid to Musto. Judge Caputo disagreed, noting that while such a quid pro quo "is sufficient to violate [§666], it is not necessary."

Judge Caputo's memorandum opinion is attached here: United States v. Raphael Musto Memorandum Opinion on Motion to Dismiss.pdf