WASHINGTON - A former congressional staffer was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $800,000 in restitution for participating in a multi-year scheme that stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from charitable donors.
Thomas Dodd used the money to pay for personal expenses and illegally financed campaigns for federal office.
Dodd, 40, of Houston, was also ordered to forfeit $153,044.28 in illicit gains.
Dodd pleaded guilty on March 20, 2017, to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to make conduit contributions and false statements. As a part of his plea deal, Dodd admitted that he participated in a scheme led by former U.S. Rep. Stephen E. Stockman, 62, who was convicted by a federal jury in Houston on April 12 of 23 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to make conduit contributions and false statements to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), making false statements to the Federal Election Commission, making excessive coordinated campaign contributions, money laundering and filing a false tax return.
Another of Stockman’s former congressional staffers, Jason T. Posey, 48, of Tupelo, Mississippi, pleaded guilty last year to one count of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of money laundering.
From May 2010 to February 2014, Stockman, Dodd and Posey solicited $1,250,571.65 in donations.
In 2010, Stockman and Dodd solicited an elderly donor in Baltimore, Maryland for $285,000 to be used for legitimate charitable and educational purposes. Stockman and Dodd used a sham charity named the Ross Center to funnel the money to be used for a variety of personal expenses. In 2011 and 2012, Stockman and Dodd received an additional $165,000 in charitable donations from the Baltimore donor, much of which Stockman used illegally to finance his 2012 congressional campaign.
Evidence also showed that shortly after Stockman took office as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2013, he and Dodd used the name of another sham nonprofit entity, Life Without Limits, to solicit and receive a $350,000 charitable donation, to be used to create an educational center called the Freedom House. Stockman, Dodd, and Posey instead used the donation for a variety of personal and campaign expenses, including illegal conduit 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.
In connection with Stockman’s Senate campaign, Stockman and Posey used another sham nonprofit entity to secure a $450,571.65 donation in order to fund a purportedly legitimate independent expenditure promoting Stockman’s candidacy. The evidence showed that the purportedly independent expenditure was in fact secretly controlled by Stockman, who directed his campaign and Posey to file false affidavits with the FEC covering up Stockman’s involvement.
The evidence at trial demonstrated that Stockman failed to pay taxes on any of the $1,250,571.65 in fraudulently acquired donations. In addition, during the early stages of the investigation, Stockman directed Posey to flee to Cairo, Egypt, for two and a half years so that Posey could not be questioned by law enforcement.
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