Valdes v. U.S.
In Valdes v. United States, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reviewed the conviction of a police officer under the federal gratuities statute accepting cash from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for searching law enforcement databases for information. The D.C. Circuit, sitting en banc, reversed the conviction, finding that the police officer’s action did not rise to the level of an “official act” as required by federal law because his use of the database was not part of a pending police matter and not part of his assigned official duties. It construed the term “official act” to include only those formal, official actions that are connected to a “class of questions or matters whose answer or disposition is determined by the government,” thereby greatly narrowing the scope and effectiveness of the federal prohibition on gratuities.