Ex-Massachusetts House candidate accused of soliciting illegal campaign contributions

Ex-Massachusetts House candidate accused of soliciting illegal campaign contributions
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A former U.S. House candidate in Massachusetts has been indicted on charges of soliciting illegal campaign contributions, federal prosecutors announced.

Abhijit “Beej” Das was arrested on Tuesday and faces six charges for allegedly soliciting illegal campaign contributions and using campaign funds to pay down business expenses, the U.S. Attorney’s office of the District of Massachusetts said in a statement.

He made his first court appearance in district court on Tuesday.

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Das was a former longshot candidate in Massachusetts' 3rd District. He was one of more than half a dozen candidates to mount a primary challenge to Rep. Lori TrahanLori A. TrahanFacebook draws lawmaker scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Fusion power and public-private partnerships Democrats urge online platforms to extend UK child protections to US MORE (D) in 2018.

According to the Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office, Das received just 1,492 votes in the primary, representing 1.7 percent of the vote.

Prosecutors allege that in December 2017, Das sought to overcome a fundraising deficit by devising a scheme to solicit personal loans from friends and associates in excess of the legal limit. He allegedly solicited $125,000 in contributions from friends and family, and disguised them as personal loans to avoid Federal Election Commission (FEC) reporting requirements.

Das is also accused of using $267,000 in campaign funds to pay outstanding debts for his hotel business, including vendors, the hotel’s yacht and real estate taxes.

Das is charged with one count of accepting excessive campaign contributions, one count of conduit contributions, one count of conversion of campaign funds, one count of engaging in a scheme to falsify, conceal and cover up material facts as well as two counts of making a false statement.

Each of the charges are punishable by up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss.