PMA Group founder charged with illegal campaign contributions

The founder of a once lucrative defense lobby shop was arrested on Thursday after being indicted on eight counts of making illegal campaign contributions to lawmakers.

Government prosecutors allege that Paul Magliocchetti, who founded the now defunct PMA Group, orchestrated a scheme to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions in an effort to enrich himself and his firm by increasing its influence and prestige in Washington.

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Magliocchetti has been indicted on 11 counts: four counts of making illegal campaign contributions in the name of someone else; four counts of making illegal campaign contributions from a corporation; and three counts of causing federal campaigns to unwittingly make false statements, according to a release from the Department of Justice. 

Magliocchetti is scheduled to appear in federal court in Alexandria, Va., this afternoon, according to the release. 

Magliocchetti’s son Mark was also indicted on one charge of making illegal campaign contributions. Mark Magliocchetti, who also worked at his father’s firm, pled guilty to that charge. He could face a year in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the plea agreement he reached with federal authorities.

Mark Magliochetti made between $120,000 and $200,000 in illegal campaign contributions, according to court documents.

The PMA Group has been under scrutiny since early 2009 from federal authorities and House ethics committee investigators, but prosecutors do not allege any wrongdoing by lawmakers, who they say were not aware of Magliochetti’s scheme.

The PMA Group made significant campaign contributions to several veteran defense appropriators, including the late John Murtha (D-Pa.), a defense appropriations chairman.

It also contributed to the new chairman, Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), and committee members Reps. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.).

Ethics investigators already scrutinized several lawmakers and cleared them in the process.

The indictment alleges that Magliocchetti used straw donors to make contributions to campaign committees. He then personally or through his company paid back those donors for their contribution in a scheme to evade donation limits to lawmakers, according to the Justice Department. 

Government prosecutors allege that Magliocchetti directed family members to make contributions to lawmakers, and then paid them back. He also is said to have instructed PMA employees to make political contributions, and then repaid them with either personal or company funds.

Prosecutors say that the PMA founder also recruited two acquaintances in Florida to write checks to candidates and then reimbursed them by writing personal or company checks.

The Floridians, John Pugliese and Jon Walker, were listed as PMA associates and members of the PMA board of directors since 2005. The two men, however, were not involved in defense lobbying and were not seen as political players despite their checks to politicians.

The Hill reported last year that Magliocchetti was planning to go into another business with the two Florida-based men.

According to corporate records filed with Florida’s Department of State, Magliocchetti is listed as an executive for Firenze Partners with Walker and Pugliese. Based in Fernandina Beach, Fla., the business’s purpose is to be a restaurant, according to its articles of organization on record.

Filed on Nov. 26, 2008, the records state that Magliocchetti, Pugliese and Walker are all managers of the business.