Lobbyist to serve 27 months for campaign contributions scheme

Once powerful lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti was sentenced Friday to 27 months in prison for making hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign donations and lying to the Federal Election Commission.

U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III also sentenced Magliocchetti to two years of supervised release and ordered him to pay a $75,000 fine.

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Magliocchetti, a former staffer on the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee who had close ties to the late Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), in September pleaded guilty in a U.S. district court in Alexandria, Va., to one count each of making false statements, illegal conduit political contributions and illegal corporate political contributions.

For two decades Magliocchetti ran a top lobbying shop specializing in defense earmarks. Magliocchetti showered lawmakers with millions of dollars in campaign contributions — some of them from straw men who were illegally reimbursed for cutting the checks. The lawmakers who received the campaign cash, including Murtha and other senior appropriators such as Reps. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) and Jim Moran (D-Va.), secured millions of dollars in earmarks for PMA clients.

“Paul Magliocchetti spent half of a decade gaming the system. He concocted a massive scheme to secretly funnel money to political campaigns — all so that he could gain wealth and prestige,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division. “As today’s sentence makes clear, he must now pay a price. We will continue to bring to justice those who hide the source of campaign funds and thus damage the integrity of our election process.”

Before Ellis imposed the sentence, Magliocchetti said that he accepted responsibility for misconduct affecting his family, friends and employees at his lobbying firm.

“I know this is not a victimless crime,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

The firm shut down after the FBI raided its offices in November 2008.

Murtha, Visclosky, Moran and others who received the donations were unaware of Magliocchetti’s scheme, the Justice Department investigation found. At one point during the investigation, Visclosky temporarily stepped down as chairman of the House Energy and Water Appropriations subcommittee after being subpoenaed by a federal grand jury investigating the now-defunct PMA Group.

Magliocchetti admitted that, from 2003 to 2008, he used members of his family, friends and PMA lobbyists to make the unlawful campaign contributions. Aware of the strict limits on individual federal campaign contributions — and an outright ban on corporate contributions — Magliocchetti conceded that he instructed the conduits to write checks out of personal checking accounts to specific candidates for federal office and then reimbursed the individuals using personal corporate money.

Through the scheme, Magliocchetti caused several lawmakers’ campaign committees to file false reports with the FEC regarding the contributions they had received.

Mark Magliocchetti, Paul’s 34-year-old son, in early August pleaded guilty to making illegal corporate contributions. He was sentenced to 14 days in prison and five and a half months of home confinement.