Understand the consequences that follow in the Attorney General and United Airlines bribery case.
About the Author:
My name is Joshua McCarty. I am a Freelance Videographer. I make films to bring awareness to important subjects that occur within the world. In 2007 I was incarcerated because I thought I was smarter than the people I was trying to deceive. This thinking caused me to go to prison for six years. I spent those six years rebuilding myself mentally and started to develop healthier thinking habits. Since my release, I have graduated from college with an Associate’s Degree in Human Resource Management and will be furthering my education.
Upon completion of this case study, participants will be able to:
- Describe the penalties that follow for coercion and bribery
- Understand that no one is exempt from government investigation regardless of rank.
- Explain court procedures against a defendant.
- Understand the aspects and meaning of bribery.
All government and corporate decision makers.
United Airlines, Bribery, Samson, Fox, Port Authority, Newark.
Current State of the Industry:
Many business leaders do not understand how decisions they make can lead to government investigations. These leaders reach a certain prime level within their organization and become overly confident in their own decision making capabilities, without considering input from others. This thinking causes them to make errant choices. This toxic mindset causes these leaders to have a false sense of security, believing themselves immune from disciplinary actions. Innocent people can be harmed because of their fear of standing up against this type of authority. Many power leaders will stretch the boundaries to the breaking point with the impression that they are indestructible. They do not understand the severity of their actions and how government investigations can lead to federal prison time for white-collar crimes.
Future State of the Industry:
Government investigators have become ever more interested in prosecuting trophy targets. Heads of large companies and agencies prove to be attractive targets. This trend will continue to expand along with the growing criminal justice industrial complex. Awareness of the penalties that be meted out for corruption may dissuade others from engaging in similar behavior. Strong compliance programs can help ensure that corruption does not initiate a domino effect within the organization. Being aware of consequences for dishonorable activity will help reduce the chances of government investigations starting.
The former Attorney General of a New Jersey Board of Commissions attempted to use disposition of his position of authority to persuade a well-known airline to change their route for him. Changing their route not only went against company policy but it would also cause financial loss to the airline.
The former Attorney General applied pressure to representatives at the airlines and through persistent coercion, the airlines gave in and eventually made the flight stop adjustments.
Airlines transport passengers from one place to another, typically with a long distance in between. Airlines must remain on a strict schedule to ensure passengers arrive at their destinations promptly. Interference with these rigid schedules can result in late arrivals and departures. Obstruction of scheduling policies can also impose losses on company earnings.
David Samson, a former chairman of the Board of Commissioners of a prestigious Law firm and former New Jersey Attorney General decided to use his status to engage in a deal with United Airlines. United Airlines operated Newark Airport in New Jersey. In the past, the airline formerly had a flight schedule that included non-stop trips from the New Jersey airport to the airport in Columbia, South Carolina. Samson lived in South Carolina and became accustomed to taking these convenient flights. Over time, United realized they lost money on these routes due to the scarcity of passengers flying on them.. This led the airline to stop the trip entirely and redeploy their assets to more profitable alternatives.
This change in flight schedule became less expedient for Samson and he decided to use his power for reinstatement of the flight for his personal convenience.
Jamie Fox served as a consultant for United Continental, the parent company of United Airlines. Fox along with Samson decided to have a meeting at a restaurant with United Airline agents to discuss Samson’s concerns over the inconvenience of the cancelled route. Throughout the meeting, Samson made the agents aware of his disdain over the flight changes. Samson remained adamant that he wanted to have a non-stop flight reinstated that went from New Jersey to his home city in South Carolina. Many times, United representatives informed Samson and Fox that those one-way flights caused financial loss for the airline. Eventually, the representatives for United told Samson they would explore ways of bringing back the route.
Correspondence continued from Fox to United regarding this flight issue. Ultimately, United maintained their stance and informed Fox that restoring Samson’s preferred route would not be in the company’s best financial interest. United’s failure to adhere to Fox’s request initiated a selfish and corrupt plan from Samson.
Samson served as chairman of the Port Authority and decided to use his influence to serve his personal interest for an upcoming attempt to coerce representatives for United to reinstate the New Jersey/South Carolina flight. They scheduled a meeting between the Port Authority and United that involved assembling a large building for aircraft storage. Samson and Fox had prior knowledge of this meeting and strategically began planning their manipulation. Samson and Fox sent multiple emails to one another plotting to use Samson’s authority as chairman to further influence United to yield to his desires. Samson and Fox threatened to remove the aircraft storage construction off the agenda discussed in the Port Authority/United meeting if their wants were not met. United remained resolute until Samson and Fox removed the construction project from the agenda. Email correspondence continued between Samson and Fox that revealed the intent to pressure United to do what they requested. United eventually succumbed to the pressure. United reinstated the New Jersey/South Carolina route due to Samson and Fox’s relentless coercion.
A government investigation began looking into this matter with the help of the Port Authority.
According to the information provided, Samson and Fox exercised their positions of power and influence within their organization to get United to bend to their will. When things didn’t go as planned in the meeting with United representatives, they chose to use threats to get their way. This coercion caused United Airlines to choose between a major inconvenience and losing money over an unprofitable route.
Though United airlines turned out to be the victim in this case, they also received a monetary fine for going along with the coercion instead of reporting the offending officials. In their plea deal, United Airlines paid $2.5 million in fines for their negligence to bring this to the attention of authorities. Originally, Samson faced a decade in prison and a quarter million dollar fine for bribery. Due to his mitigation strategy, his plea agreement reduced the maximum sentence to two years in federal prison and fines. As part of United’s plea deal, United amended and strengthened their compliance programs to prevent corrupt business practices from occurring in the future.
Samson and Fox allowed conceit and their positions of power to lead them to believe they could not be touched. Their authority and prestige inflated their own self-importance to the point where they sought to do anything to get the outcome they wanted. This type of behavioral pattern mimics the thoughts of many successful business leaders. They reach the pinnacle of success and become overbearing to meet their demands.
When people understand they are not indispensable, they tend to make better and more well thought-out decisions. Failure to come to appreciate the consequences that can occur from this behavior results in poor judgement that may jeopardize their careers and more importantly, their freedom.
Implementing robust, ongoing compliance programs can help assist high-ranking businessmen and businesswomen to understand that they may not use their power and influence within an organization for direct personal gain. Strong compliance programs will decrease the chances of deception and abuse within an organization and ensure that all members understand that the rules apply equally to everyone regardless of rank.