Saturday, October 29, 2011

US Politics: Real estate exec, company charged with making illegal campaign donations

U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

BOSTON—A Boston-based real estate executive and the real estate development company in which he was a partner were charged in federal court today with causing illegal campaign contributions in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act.

ARTHUR WINN, 72, of Brookline, and WINN COLUMBUS CENTER LIMITED PARTNERSHIP were charged today with multiple violations of violating the Federal Election Campaign Act’s prohibitions on making campaign contributions in the names of strawmen or conduits.

If convicted on these charges, ARTHUR WINN faces up to one year in prison, followed by one year of supervised release and a $100,000 fine on each count. WINN COLUMBUS CENTER LIMITED PARTNERSHIP has entered into a plea agreement in which, if accepted by the court, the company has agreed to pay over $1.5 million in fines.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said, “Using strawmen and conduits to conceal the true source of campaign funds erodes the public’s confidence in our electoral system. The conduct alleged today, which includes conduit contributions that were ultimately reimbursed using funds from publicly subsidized housing communities, demonstrates the importance of open and honest campaign funding and record keeping.”

The information charging ARTHUR WINN alleges that he solicited and made campaign contributions to a wide variety of candidates for elected office with the hope that these elected officials would generally support his companies’ development projects, including Winn Columbus Center Limited Partnership’s development of Columbus Center. Columbus Center was a mixed-use development that was to be built over the Massachusetts Turnpike and, at times, was designed to include a luxury hotel, condominiums, retail stores, and other amenities.

The information further alleges that ARTHUR WINN reimbursed persons for campaign contributions he requested they make to certain federal, state, and local candidates of his choosing. In so doing, ARTHUR WINN allegedly concealed the true source of these contributions from the Federal Election Commission and similar state authorities, and, in some cases, avoided the statutory annual limits on the amounts that persons could contribute to candidates for elected office.

According to the information, WINN COLUMBUS CENTER LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, in addition to the illegal contributions caused by ARTHUR WINN, another executive, Martin Raffol, was directed to solicit campaign contributions to candidates selected by ARTHUR WINN. In particular, Raffol was asked to obtain campaign contributions from numerous vendors who did work for the company for candidates of ARTHUR WINN’s choosing. In response to the increasing demand to solicit these contributions from company vendors, Raffol reimbursed some vendors for the campaign contributions solicited from them. These reimbursements came in, among other forms, payments for inflated or false invoices, including invoices billed to certain publicly subsidized housing communities. According to the information, in engaging in this conduct, the true source of these contributions was disguised from the FEC and state authorities, and, in some cases, circumvented the statutory prohibition on corporate contributions.

Martin Raffol pleaded guilty to charges in connection with this conduct in September 2010. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 8, 2011.

Collectively there were over $150,000 in reimbursed campaign contributions involved in these matters, including illegal contributions to candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as reimbursed campaign contributions to candidates running for state and local office, including candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, State Senate, House of Representatives, District Attorney, Mayor of the City of Boston, and Boston City Council.

U.S. Attorney Ortiz and Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement today. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Dowden of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.

The details contained in the informations are allegations. The defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.