Former Campaign Coordinator Pleads Guilty to Embezzling from Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst
In Austin today, 58-year-old political consultant Kenneth Barfield (aka “Buddy Barfield”) pleaded guilty to stealing approximately $1.8 Million in campaign funds from Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst announced United States Attorney Robert Pitman, Christopher Combs, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge of the San Antonio Division, and IRS Criminal Investigation Acting Special Agent in Charge William Cotter.
Appearing before United States Magistrate Judge Mark Lane, Barfield pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, one count of making a false tax return and one count of embezzlement of federal campaign funds.
According to court documents, Barfield, and through his Austin-based companies, was a member of the campaign staff and committee for Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst’s run for the Republican nomination for United States Senate in 2012. Barfield and his companies were responsible for securing, paying, and/or subcontracting legal and legitimate activities on behalf of Dewhurst’s campaign and had a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the campaign, including oversight and maintenance of financial records. By pleading guilty to the charges, Barfield admitted to knowingly engaging in a scheme to steal an estimated $1.8 Million in campaign funds and use it for his own personal expenses including his home mortgage, school tuition for his children, personal investments and other living expenses. Barfield further admitted that on his 2008 Income Tax return, he knowingly stated that his Taxable Income was zero when, in fact, his Taxable Income should have been reported as approximately $582,000. Barfield also admitted that under his direction, fraudulent documentation was submitted in disclosure reports to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) regarding expenditures for campaign disbursements.
“This case should serve as a reminder of the unfortunate truth that some people abuse positions of trust to enrich themselves at the expense of others, including, in this case, the taxpayers,” stated United States Attorney Robert Pitman.
Barfield is on bond pending sentencing. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison for wire fraud; up to three years in federal prison for making a false tax return; and, up to five years in federal prison for embezzlement of federal campaign funds. Sentencing before United States District Judge Sam Sparks in Austin has yet to be scheduled.
“Whenever an individual utilizes their position to defraud the public for their own personal gain by stealing campaign contributions, it tarnishes our political process. The FBI is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to ensure those who choose to line their pockets with public funds and abuse their positions of trust are held accountable,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs.
“The role of IRS Criminal Investigation becomes even more important in embezzlement cases such as this due to the complex financial transactions that must be unraveled. As in the case of Mr. Barfield, federal tax laws are typically violated in connection with this blatant fraud which can result in additional jail time,” stated IRS Criminal Investigation Acting Special Agent in Charge William Cotter. “Honest and law abiding citizens are fed up with greedy individuals who abuse the trust they are granted and use deceit and fraud to line their pockets with other people’s money. Today’s guilty plea demonstrates the collective efforts of IRS and our partners to enforce the law and ensure public trust.”
This case was investigated by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation together with the Travis County District Attorney’s Special Prosecution Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Dan Guess and Ashley Hoff are prosecuting this case on behalf of the Government.