Nevada Lobbyist Harvey Whittemore Indicted for Allegedly Making Unlawful Campaign Contributions and Lying to Investigators

June 7, 2012

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on June 6, 2012 released the following:

“WASHINGTON— Nevada lobbyist and lawyer Harvey Whittemore was indicted today in the District of Nevada by a federal grand jury on charges that he made unlawful campaign contributions to an elected member of Congress, caused false statements to be made to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), and lied to the FBI, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Daniel G. Bogden, U.S. Attorney for the District of Nevada.

F. Harvey Whittemore, 55, of Reno, Nevada, was charged with one count of making excessive campaign contributions, one count of making contributions in the name of others, and two counts of making a false statement to a federal agency. If convicted, Whittemore faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count.

“Mr. Whittemore allegedly used his family members and employees as conduits to make illegal contributions to the campaign committee of an elected member of Congress,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Furthermore, according to today’s indictment, he attempted to conceal his crimes by lying to the FBI. Our campaign finance laws establish maximum limits on individual contributions, and failure to adhere to those rules jeopardizes the integrity of our elections. We will continue to pursue those who engage in such conduct.”

“We remain committed to investigating and prosecuting illegal behavior that jeopardizes the integrity of our elections and corrupts our political process,” said U.S. Attorney Bogden. “Campaign finance laws exist to protect that process and criminal violations of those laws will be vigorously prosecuted by this office.”

Under federal law, it is illegal to contribute to a federal political campaign using a conduit in order to hide the identity of the true contributor. Federal law also sets limits on the amount that an individual can contribute to a campaign. In 2007, the maximum individual contribution was $2,300 for a primary election and $2,300 for a general election; thus, the maximum for one candidate was $4,600.

The indictment states that Whittemore was the chief executive of Company A. On about February 21, 2007, Whittemore allegedly met with an elected member of Congress (identified in the indictment as Federal Elected Official 1) and agreed to try to collect $150,000 in contributions for the elected official’s campaign committee by March 31, 2007, which marked the end of a legally required quarterly reporting period. Aware of the strict limits on individual federal campaign contributions, Whittemore allegedly devised a scheme and plan whereby he used family members, employees of Company A, and their respective spouses as prohibited conduits through which to funnel his own money to the federal elected official’s campaign committee under the guise of lawful campaign contributions. This scheme allowed Whittemore to make an individual campaign donation to the federal elected official in excess of the limits established by federal law. Whittemore allegedly concealed the scheme from the FEC, the elected official, and the elected official’s campaign committee.

In March 2007, Whittemore allegedly solicited the employees, family members, and their respective spouses to make the maximum campaign donations to the federal elected official and reimbursed the contributors with personal checks and wire transfers. The indictment alleges that Whittemore attempted to conceal some of the reimbursements he made to the contributors by telling the employees that they were bonuses. Whittemore also allegedly paid the contributors additional money on top of the reimbursements. If a conduit contributed $4,600, Whittemore reimbursed the individual $5,000; likewise if a couple contributed $9,200, he paid the couple $10,000.

On about March 28, 2007, Whittemore allegedly caused a Company A employee to transmit $138,000 in contributions to the federal elected official’s campaign committee, the vast majority of which were conduit contributions that Whittemore had personally funded in order to satisfy his pledge to the federal elected official. On April 15, 2007, the campaign committee then unknowingly filed false reports with the FEC stating that the conduits had made the contributions, when in fact, Whittemore had made them.

On about February 9, 2012, Whittemore allegedly made false statements during an interview with FBI agents by claiming that he never made a request for campaign contributions; never asked employees of Company A to contribute to the elected official’s campaign; never provided payments to anyone with the expectation that they would serve as reimbursements for campaign contributions; never spoke to any candidate about raising money for the candidate; and never gave money to family members to make political contributions.

The case is being investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven W. Myhre, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sue Fahami, and Trial Attorney Eric G. Olshan of the Public Integrity Section in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

An indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Federal Judge denies Blagojevich request to hear new tapes

November 29, 2011

Associated Press on November 28, 2011 released the following:

“By NOMAAN MERCHANT, Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — The federal judge who will sentence Rod Blagojevich had harsh words for the former Illinois governor’s attorneys as he denied a request Monday to play new federal wiretap tapes in court.

Blagojevich was convicted at two separate trials on 18 corruption counts, including allegations he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat. Blagojevich will be sentenced next week, and his lawyers last week submitted a list of 180 secret tape recordings the FBI made of the governor and others.

Parts of some recordings were played during his trials, but Blagojevich has long argued that authorities should “play all the tapes.” He says some of the recordings hold evidence demonstrating his innocence.

But Judge James Zagel said Blagojevich’s attorneys hadn’t said what they specifically wanted to prove and what sections of the tapes they wanted to use, echoing complaints made by federal prosecutors.

“What this motion requests is my blind approval of the use of whatever excerpts it decides are relevant to ‘lack of ill intent’ and admissible … at sentencing,” Zagel said. “That request is denied.”

Zagel also derided the timing of Blagojevich’s motion, which was filed Thanksgiving Day. He said the federal courts were closed except for emergencies both Thursday and Friday, and there was no reason for Blagojevich — who was convicted on 17 of 20 counts in June — to wait this long.

He also pointed out that the motion was dated Monday, Nov. 28, even though it was filed Thursday, and that his attorneys did not notify the judge when they filed it.

“This practice is difficult to defend under any circumstances and made more so because of the nature of the motion,” Zagel said.

Blagojevich attorney Sheldon Sorosky did not return messages seeking comment. Randall Samborn, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, declined to comment.

Blagojevich’s first trial ended deadlocked with jurors agreeing on just one of 24 counts — that Blagojevich lied to the FBI. Jurors at his recent retrial convicted Blagojevich on 17 of 20 counts, including bribery and attempted extortion related to his handling of a U.S. Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama.

Most legal observers expect the 54-year-old former governor to receive about 10 years in prison, though he technically faces up to 305 years in prison. Both sides are expected to file their suggestions on sentencing this week.

Judges generally frown on felons who continue to maintain their innocence at sentencing, Chicago-based federal defense attorney Gal Pissetzky said last week.

“At sentencing, you need to accept the jury verdict and then fight for your innocence later on appeal,” he said. “If you continue to shove it in the judge’s face by fighting your innocence at sentencing, it takes away from your goal of less time in prison.”

The judge scheduled a Friday hearing on another Blagojevich request related to a government witness, John Wyma. Blagojevich’s attorneys are questioning whether Wyma helped the government “in exchange for a government benefit.” Prosecutors denied that allegation at trial.”

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.