HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - New efforts are being made by the FBI to fight public corruption in Hampton Roads. News 3 spoke exclusively to the FBI about how they are making it easier for you to report public corruption.
The FBI says public corruption can dictate how verdicts are handed down in court, how public infrastructure like roads and schools are built and costs taxpayers billions of dollars.
“For anybody to take advantage of that oath and do it just for profit is one of the worst things you can do,” said Brian Dugan, the Special Agent in Charge of FBI in Norfolk.
News 3 has covered seen top officials get locked up in Hampton Roads.
The former Second District Congressional candidate Shaun Brown was convicted of stealing from a program meant to feed needy children.
Brown, McCabe and Burfoot have all filed appeals in their cases.
Burfoot told News 3 he adamantly denies any wrongdoing.
The News 3 I-team also uncovered two new cases.
Jennifer Strickland and Daniel Crowe are both accused in separate indictments of giving money to a public official to get recommendations for their businesses to get government contracts.
Strickland’s accused of giving more than $43,000 while Crowe is accused of paying more than $400,000. Both indictments only identify the public official by their initials C.J but it is unclear if it’s the same official in both cases.
“The issue of public corruption is ever-present, if we stop trusting our government officials and elected officials we’re going to be lost,” said Special Agent Dugan.
Dugan sat down with the News 3 investigative team to speak exclusively about their new public corruption awareness campaign.
He said in recent years a lot of government dollars have been dispersed through the stimulus for COVID-19, increased money towards infrastructure, and increased spending for the Department of Defense.
Special Agent Dugan said those situations lend themselves to people who may want to take advantage of the situation.
That’s why the FBI is making it easier for you to report public corruption. They’ve had a tip line for several years –1-844-FIGHT PC but now they’re adding an email: NORFOLKCORRUPTION@FBI.GOV.
They said they hope this will make it easier for people to report these kinds of crimes.
“It’s a partnership with the community and the public to let us know that people are taking advantage of the system because it erodes the confidence in our government and our public officials and it’s a national security threat,” said Dugan.
They said they are looking for people to report suspicious behavior like bribery, extortion or using power to get what you want for yourself, friends or family.
“You are entrusted to operate to use that influence and power for the betterment of the country, the state or local government, or the community,” said Special Agent Dugan.
He said people abusing the system should not be in those positions of power.
The FBI said they don’t think it’s a rampant problem in our region but believe it goes on and they want to make it easier to stop.
Dugan said when you know this type of behavior is going on they should have an obligation to report it for the betterment of the community.
He said once a tip is provided they will investigate the information and do everything to protect the person providing the information.
They encourage people to reach out, even if they are not 100% sure that corruption is taking place.