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35 UCLA L. Rev. 815 (1987-1988)
The Elusive Distinction between Bribery and Extortion: From the Common Law to the Hobbs Act

handle is hein.journals/uclalr35 and id is 829 raw text is: THE ELUSIVE DISTINCTION BETWEEN
James Lindgren*
When public officials are prosecuted for corruption, the
two most common charges are extortion and bribery.' Fed-
eral prosecutors typically charge public officials with both
extortion under a federal racketeering act commonly called
the Hobbs Act,2 and bribery under the Travel Act,3 or the
federal bribery statute.4 Since the RICO statute has become
more popular, prosecutors often add a RICO charge5 alleg-
ing a pattern of Hobbs or Travel Act violations.
* Professor of Law, University of Connecticut. J.D., 1977, University of
Chicago; B.A., 1974, Yale College. This Article was written while I was a visiting
professor at the University of Virginia School of Law. The Universities of Virginia
and Connecticut provided financial support for this project.
I would like to thank the staff of the rare book collection at the Virginia Law
Library and the reference librarians of the law libraries of Virginia, Yale, Harvard,
Connecticut, and the State of New York. I also acknowledge suggestions or re-
search assistance from Daniel Ortiz, Philip Hamburger, Daniel Lowenstein, Kent
Greenawalt, David Wasserman, Peter DeGenaro, Kevin Carter, Elizabeth Arnold,
Jordan Gruber, David Purvis, Elizabeth Dickinson, and participants in faculty sem-
inars at Connecticut and Case-Western Reserve.
A draft of this Article was supplied to the panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of
Appeals rehearing United States v. Aguon en banc, after briefing and oral argument
but before the opinions were announced.
1. See generally Ruff, Federal Prosecution of Local Corruption: A Case Study in the
Making of Law Enforcement Policy, 65 GEO. L.J. 1171, 1172 (1977); Comment, Prose-
cuting Public Officials Under the Hobbs Act: Inducement as an Element of Extortion Under
Color of Official Right, 52 U. CHI. L. REV. 1066, 1066 n.l (1985).
2. 18 U.S.C. § 1951 (1982).
3. Id. § 1952.
4. Id. § 201.
5. See, e.g., United States v. Roth, No. 85-763, slip op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 17,
1987); see also 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-68 (1982). RICO stands for Racketeer Influ-
enced and Corrupt Organizations.


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