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Texas Businessman Convicted of Making Illegal Campaign Contributions to Political Candidates


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Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 6, 2019

Texas Businessman Convicted of Making Illegal Campaign Contributions to Political Candidates

A Houston, Texas, businessman has pleaded guilty to making illegal political contributions in the names of others to campaign committees for U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in 2017, announced Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick of the Southern District of Texas.

James D. Dannenbaum, 80, pleaded guilty today to violating the Federal Election Campaign Act. 

On Nov. 22, Dannenbaum Engineering Corporation (DEC) and its parent company, Engineering Holding Corporation, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) and agreed to pay a $1.6 million criminal fine for its involvement in a multi-year conduit contribution scheme. Dannenbaum is DEC’s former CEO.

As part of the plea, Dannenbaum admitted that from 2015 through 2017, he and DEC made $323,300 in illegal conduit contributions through various employees and their family members to federal candidates and their committees. DEC corporate funds were used to advance or reimburse employee monies for these contributions. Dannenbaum did not reveal to any of the federal candidates that the corporation was the true source of the contributions. The object of the scheme was for DEC, Dannenbaum and a former employee to gain access to, and potentially influence, various candidates for federal office, including candidates for the presidency as well as the Senate and House of Representatives.

U.S. District Judge Sim Lake of the Southern District of Texas accepted the plea and set sentencing for March 5, 2019.

The FBI conducted the investigation. Trial Attorney Jessica C. Harvey of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carolyn Ferko and John Pearson of the Southern District of Texas are prosecuting the case.





Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 21, 2019

Former Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives Pleads Guilty to Fraud and Campaign Finance Violation

A former candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives pleaded guilty today to wire fraud and willfully violating the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by operating fraudulent and unregistered political action committees.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant Director in Charge Nancy McNamara of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

Harold Russell Taub, 30, of Cranston, Rhode Island, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of willfully violating FECA before U.S. District Judge William E. Smith for the District of Rhode Island.  Sentencing is set for July 12, 2019.


According to the Information, in late 2016, Taub began soliciting donations to an organization he called Keeping America in Republican Control (KAIRC), which he represented to be a legitimate political committee, organized in accordance with federal law to support Republican candidates at the state and federal level.  In March 2018, Taub began soliciting donations to another purported political action committee, Keeping Ohio in Republican Control (KOIRC), with the stated purpose of supporting Republican candidates in Ohio.  Taub collected a total of approximately $1,630,439 in contributions to KAIRC and KOIRC, but never registered either entity with the FEC or made required reports to the FEC, as required by FECA.

Taub admitted as part of the plea that he held KAIRC and KOIRC out as legitimate, federally-registered political actions committees on his website, in social media posts, and in email solicitations that reached hundreds of donors.  Taub represented that all of KAIRC and KOIRC’s staff were volunteers and that “100 percent” of donations were used to support candidates.  However, of the more than $1.6 million in contributions to KAIRC and KOIRC, Taub used more than $1 million for purely personal expenses.  In furtherance of his fraudulent scheme, Taub also repeatedly used the name of a former Ambassador and high-level military officer without the knowledge or permission of the person, even after being instructed not to do so. 

The FBI investigated the case.  Trial Attorney Peter M. Nothstein of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section is prosecuting the case.







    
   
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3/21/2019

Former congressional candidate pleads guilty to spending political donations on escorts, clothes, airfare

by Zachary Halaschak

A former Republican congressional candidate pleaded guilty Thursday to wire fraud and campaign finance violations.

Harold Russell Taub, 30, admitted to using more than $1 million in political contributions “for purely personal reasons,” according to a Thursday news release from the Justice Department.

Taub ran an unsuccessful 2016 campaign in Rhode Island against Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, losing by 29.4 percentage points. After the election, he solicited about $1.6 million in donations through two entities purporting to be political action committees, although neither was registered with the Federal Election Commission.


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The first fake PAC was launched in December 2016 and named "Keeping America in Republican Control." The second was started in March of last year and called "Keeping Ohio in Republican Control."

The FBI investigation revealed Taub told donors that 100 percent of the funds given to the two PACs would "be used to further the candidates they support," despite the fact that Taub was the only one working with the two entities and was paying himself substantial amounts of money from the funds gathered through the scam.

According to the charging document, Taub spent more than $217,000 of that money to pay for personal expenses, "including tens of thousands of dollars on international and domestic air travel, hotels, restaurants, clothing, cigars, adult entertainment, and escort services" as well as stashing more than $700,000 in his personal checking and savings accounts.


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During the scheme, Taub also “repeatedly used the name of a former Ambassador and high-level military officer without the knowledge or permission of the person, even after being instructed not to do so.”

Taub is set to be sentenced July 12.












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