Former Pennsylvania Treasurer sentenced to prison for attempted extortion

“When an individual’s ambition trumps his or her good judgment and their otherwise good character, that’s when crimes happen… "

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Image Credit: PennLive

Recorded in thousands of wiretapped conversations attempting to extort campaign contributions from a law firm and a property management company, former Pennsylvania State Treasurer Robert McCord was recently sentenced to 30 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to two counts of attempted extortion. At his sentencing this week, McCord admitted wrongdoing and apologized to the people of Pennsylvania.

Serving as the Pennsylvania State Treasurer from 2008 until he resigned in February 2015, McCord ran a failed gubernatorial campaign in 2014. While running for governor, McCord threatened economic harm against potential donors if they failed to make sufficient campaign contributions. By using his position as state treasurer, McCord specifically threatened to interfere with business that a law firm and a property management company were conducting with the state unless they donated large sums of money to his campaign.

“As Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and a candidate for Governor, McCord attempted to obtain political contributions by threatening retaliation against those who refused,” said U.S. Attorney David Freed. “McCord’s official actions to benefit his friends and punish his foes compromised the integrity of the Treasury and directly damaged the citizens of Pennsylvania.”

“Rob McCord crossed the line from fundraising to felonies, when he attempted to extort potential donors to fund his gubernatorial campaign,” stated Michael Harpster, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Trying to further his own ambitions, he abused his position of public trust.”

“McCord broke the law and the trust placed in him by the public when he attempted to extort campaign contributions,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Guy Ficco. “McCord’s sentence demonstrates our collective efforts to enforce the law and ensure public trust.”

After abruptly resigning from office, McCord pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted extortion in February 2015. Secretly recorded in 2,000 wiretapped conversations, McCord agreed to work with federal prosecutors attempting to charge Richard Ireland, a wealthy Chester County businessman and Republican campaign donor, with attempted bribery.

On Tuesday, McCord was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and ordered to pay a $5,000 fine. During his sentencing, McCord stated, “I do want to apologize again — I want to apologize to the people of Pennsylvania, to the court, to my really great colleagues at Treasury.”

“I broke the law,” McCord admitted, adding that what he did “was not only illegal, it was wrong. I feel horrible remorse about that.”

“What I see before me is that, unfortunately, Mr. McCord, you used your position as treasurer to further what really became an obsession, an avaricious ambition to become the governor,” U.S. District Judge John Jones III told McCord.

The judge added, “When an individual’s ambition trumps his or her good judgment and their otherwise good character, that’s when crimes happen… You were almost hysterical to raise funds… It trumped any fiber of reasonable judgment that you had left.”

The former state treasurer is scheduled to report to the Bureau of Prisons on October 29.

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