Criminal Law in Land Use

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Bribery and Fraud Convictions of Municipal Actors

An interesting, albeit rare, criminal case in the land use context comes to our attention by way of Professor Patricia Salkin’s Law of the Land blog

The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld the criminal convictions of a zoning official and two County commissioners from Dixie County, Florida.  Specifically, the zoning official was convicted of fraudulently obtaining property from a local government receiving federal funds, and the zoning official and the two county commissioners were convicted of conspiring to commit fraud involving an organization receiving federal funds, accepting or agreeing to accept a bribe and making a false statement to the FBI. 

The opinion can be found here.

But we aren’t necessarily interested in the content of the judicial opinion.  Instead, we agree with the admonition at the top of Professor Salkin’s post, the lesson to all in the land use space arising this unfortunate tale:

“While this is a criminal law case, it is included on Law of Land to point out how unethical behavior [in the land use context] may also rise to criminal activity.”

You can read Professor Salkin’s post about the decision here.

Mike Thelen is a lawyer in Womble, Carlyle’s Real Estate and Land Use Litigation practice group. He regularly represents a wide variety of clients, from local governments to businesses, in land use and land development matters in both state and federal venues throughout North Carolina.

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