by Jessica Silver-Greenberg

“The letters are sent by the thousands to people across the country who have written bad checks, threatening them with jail if they do not pay up.

“They bear the seal and signature of the local district attorney’s office.  But there is a catch:  the letters are from debt-collection companies, which the prosecutors allow to use their letterhead.  In return, the companies try to collect not only the unpaid check, but also high fees from debtors for a class on budgeting and financial responsibility, some of which goes back to the district attorneys’ offices.”

Generally when a private party pays a government employee to receive preferential treatment this is considered bribery.  Fortunately district attorneys are not bound by the same moral obligations as other officials.