A private citizen may be guilty of aiding a public official to hide a conflict of interest — even if that citizen is unaware of the official’s ethical reporting requirements — if there is evidence that the citizen tried to avoid creating a “paper trail,” a federal appeals court has ruled.

The ruling by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Carbo is likely to be required reading for white-collar criminal defense lawyers because it clarifies the prosecution’s burden of proof in an honest services fraud case (pdf).

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