Monday, November 19, 2018

Former Texas congressman sentenced to 10 years in prison

“Congressman Stockman used his position to defraud charitable foundations to advance his political career and pay for personal expenses.”

Image Credit: Evan Vucci/AP

Convicted on fraud and conspiracy charges, former Texas Rep. Steve Stockman was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution. In addition to misusing charitable donations to pay for personal expenses, the congressman also hired people to spy on his perceived political opponents.

From May 2010 to February 2014, Stockman and two of his former congressional staffers, Thomas Dodd and Jason Posey, solicited over $1.2 million in donations from charitable organizations based on false pretenses, then used a series of sham nonprofit organizations and dozens of bank accounts to launder the money before spending it on personal and campaign expenses. According to court documents, the money acquired by their sham charities was instead spent on illegal campaign contributions, a covert surveillance project targeting a perceived political opponent, an in-patient alcoholism treatment for a female associate, and payments for hundreds of thousands of robocalls and mailings promoting Stockman’s candidacy for U.S. Senate in early 2014.

After ordering Posey to file false affidavits with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to cover up his involvement in another sham nonprofit entity, Stockman directed Posey to flee to Egypt for two and a half years so that Posey could not be questioned by law enforcement.

On March 20, 2017, Dodd pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to make conduit contributions and false statements. In October 2017, Posey pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of money laundering.

On April 12, Stockman was convicted by a federal jury of 23 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to make conduit contributions and false statements to the FEC, making false statements to the FEC, making excessive coordinated campaign contributions, money laundering, and filing a false tax return. On Wednesday, the former congressman was sentenced to 10 years in prison, ordered to pay $1,014,718.51 in restitution, and three years of supervised release.

“Former Representative Stockman stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from charities, then used the money to pay personal expenses and fund his political campaigns,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski. “As this case demonstrates, the Justice Department and our law enforcement partners will aggressively pursue corrupt public officials, including those who seek to corrupt our elections for personal gain.”

“At trial, the government proved to the jury that former Congressman Stockman ran his campaign and fraudulent charities to simply enrich himself and defrauded well-meaning donors,” stated U.S. Attorney Ryan Patrick of the Southern District of Texas. “This type of corruption by public officials gives our entire democratic system a black eye.”

“Congressman Stockman used his position to defraud charitable foundations to advance his political career and pay for personal expenses,” said Special Agent in Charge D. Richard Goss of the IRS Criminal Investigation Houston Field Office. “His actions and failure to pay taxes on these illicit funds not only undermines the American tax system but cultivates a lack of trust in our elected officials.”

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