May 20, 2014

Dinesh D’Souza Pleads Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to Campaign Finance Fraud

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today the guilty plea of Dinesh D’Souza to violating the federal election campaign law by making illegal contributions to a United States Senate campaign in the names of others. D’Souza, whose trial was scheduled to start today, pled guilty this morning in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated, “Following the court’s ruling denying Dinesh D’Souza’s baseless claim of selective prosecution, D’Souza now has admitted, through his guilty plea, what we have asserted all along—that he knowingly and intentionally violated federal election laws. As our office’s record reflects, we will investigate and prosecute violations of federal law, particularly those that undermine the integrity of the democratic electoral process, without regard to the defendant’s political persuasion or party affiliation. That is what we did in this case and what we will continue to do.”

According to the indictment, prior court filings, and statements made in court:

The Federal Election Campaign Act (the Election Act) is designed to limit financial influence in the election of candidates for federal office, including the Office of United States Senator, and provides for the public disclosure of the financing of federal election campaigns. In particular, the Election Act limits the amount and source of money that may be contributed to a federal candidate or that candidate’s authorized campaign committee. The Election Act specifically prohibits any person from making any contribution in the name of another, including reimbursing a third person, before or after that third person’s contribution, as inducement to make that contribution.

In 2012, the Election Act limited campaign contributions to $5,000 from any individual to any one candidate. In March 2012, D’Souza contributed $10,000 to the Senate campaign of Wendy Long on behalf of himself and his wife, agreeing in writing to attribute that contribution as $5,000 from his wife and $5,000 from him. In August 2012, D’Souza directed other individuals with whom he was associated, namely his assistant and a woman with whom he was romantically involved (the straw donors), to make contributions to Wendy Long’s campaign for the United States Senate (the Long campaign) on behalf of themselves and their spouses that totaled $20,000 with the promise that he would reimburse them for the contributions. Later that same day or the next day, D’Souza, as promised, reimbursed the straw donors $10,000 each in cash for the contributions. When confronted by Ms. Long, D’Souza initially misled the candidate before admitting what he had done.

During the plea proceeding today, D’Souza admitted before the court that he caused two close associates to contribute $10,000 each to the Long Campaign with the understanding that he would reimburse them for their contributions and that he did reimburse them. D’Souza also admitted that he knew that what he was doing was wrong and something the law forbids. The court then accepted the guilty plea.

Last week, Judge Berman denied a pretrial motion by D’Souza to dismiss the indictment for selective prosecution, ruling that there was “no evidence” to support D’Souza’s allegation.

D’Souza, 53, of San Diego, California, faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison. The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Berman on September 23, 2014, at 11:00 a.m.

Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Carrie H. Cohen and Paul M. Krieger are in charge of the prosecution.