EX-U.S. Congressional Candidate Indicted On Federal Election Charges
BOSTON – A former candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 3rd Congressional District of Massachusetts was arrested today on charges of violating the Federal Election Campaign Act and false statements.
Abhijit Das, a/k/a “Beej,” 47, of North Andover, was indicted on one count of accepting excessive campaign contributions, one count of conduit contributions, one count of conversion of campaign funds, one count of engaging in a scheme to falsify, conceal, and cover up material facts and two counts of making a false statement. Das was arrested today and will make his initial appearance before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Jennifer C. Boal at 2:30 p.m.
“Mr. Das allegedly solicited illegal campaign donations, used the money for his own business expenses and debts, and then attempted to conceal his actions,” said Nathaniel R. Mendell, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts. “We are committed to prosecuting this kind of criminal conduct, because doing so protects the election process and vindicates every voter’s right to law-abiding campaigns and transparent elections.”
“Today, we arrested Abhijit Das for allegedly soliciting his friends and family for at least $125,000 in illegal campaign contributions, repeatedly dipping into his campaign coffers to pay outstanding debts related to his hotel business, and falsifying campaign finance reports to try and cover his tracks,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “We believe Mr. Das engineered this calculated scheme to show he was a viable candidate for office, at the expense of voters and the election process. The FBI will continue to investigate allegations of campaign finance abuse like these to ensure openness and fairness in our elections so that everyone’s interests are protected.”
“Campaigns funds are governed by strict federal rules so political contributions aren’t used as personal slush funds, among other reasons,” said Ramsey E. Covington, Boston Field Office Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division. “Today’s indictment alleging campaign finance violations for the personal benefit of the defendant, represent a flagrant violation of those laws and blatant betrayal of the public trust.”
According to the indictment, Das was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 3rd Congressional District of Massachusetts in the 2017-2018 election. In order to overcome a fundraising deficit, Das allegedly devised a scheme in or about December 2017 to solicit personal loans from friends and close associates in excess of the legal limit. On or about Dec. 17, 2017, Das allegedly emailed a contributor asking for a friend to support his campaign to reach a specific fundraising goal of over $450,000 by the end of the year and indicated that reaching that goal might need “some engineering.” It is alleged that Das advised a member of his campaign that he would “aggregate” the loans into “one batch” and execute a main transfer into the campaign account.
The indictment further alleges that Das caused three different individuals to contribute approximately $125,000 to his campaign and structured the contributions as personal loans to a family member to circumvent Federal Election Commission (FEC) reporting requirement and contribution limits. Das allegedly concealed the excessive campaign contributions from the FEC, falsely claimed that the funds from the excessive contributions were his own personal funds and engaged in illegal conduit contributions to his campaign.
In addition, the indictment also alleges that between January and May 2018, Das withdrew approximately $314,500 in funds from his campaign account and used at least $267,000 of these funds to pay outstanding debts for his hotel business relating to vendors, the hotel’s yacht and real estate taxes unrelated to his congressional campaign. In making these withdrawals, Das allegedly sought to conceal his conversion of campaign funds by instructing bank tellers to report the withdrawals as separate withdrawal and deposit transactions, rather than direct transfers.
Das allegedly aided and abetted in the submission of false information in quarterly reports to the FEC by overstating the amount of cash-on-hand the Das-for-Congress Campaign had in its campaign bank account. For example, on June 30, 2018, Das allegedly reported that his campaign’s total amount of cash-on-hand was approximately $440,000, when in fact the amount of cash-on-hand in the campaign bank account was less than $5,000.
Each of the charges provide for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater.
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