San Francisco

SF Real Estate Developer Sentenced for Illegally Funneling Campaign Donations

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A 74-year-old real estate developer from Fremont who funneled large amounts of his own money through front donors into two campaigns for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives was sentenced to 15 months in prison Friday by a federal jury in San Francisco.

Evidence was presented that James Tong made donations totaling $38,000 through intermediaries in 2012 and 2013 to the congressional candidate for initial and reelection campaign.

"Tong provided envelopes of cash to his bank manager and another business associate and directed them to give the cash to individuals in the community, who then used Tong's cash to write checks in their own names to the campaign for the U.S. congressional candidate Tong was supporting," the United States Attorney David Anderson said in a news release.

"Tong leveraged financial obligations and the implied loss of business opportunities to induce his bank manager and business associate to distribute cash in the community to be donated."

Dozens of conduits were involved in funneling the funds to the candidate, including one foreign national ineligible to make donations to federal elections, Anderson said.

"Tong also directed his middlemen to conceal the scheme by instructing the straw donors not to deposit the cash; and he later directed one of the middlemen to withhold information from the FBI after he was interviewed," Anderson said.

U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar also sentenced Tong to one year of supervised release and a $380,000 fine.

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