Three men indicted for fraud in $3.5 million scam PAC scheme
Three men have been charged for their alleged involvement in a scheme involving two unlawful political action committees that swindled $3.5 million during the 2016 presidential election campaign.
Matthew Nelson Tunstall, 34, Robert Reyes Jr., 38, and Kyle George Davis, 29, are accused of soliciting contributions to two fraudulent PACs — dubbed Liberty Action Group PAC and Progressive Priorities PAC — which posed as being affiliated with presidential candidates, but were actually vehicles for the three men to pocket funds, according to an indictment returned on Nov. 2 that was unsealed on Tuesday.
Between January 2016 and April 2017, the three men allegedly received roughly $3.5 million from donors who thought they were contributing money to presidential candidates, according to a statement from the Justice Department.
The indictment did not specify which candidates the two PACs were pretending to support, but Politico noted that the indictment suggests that Liberty Action Group PAC was posed to support the-candidate Donald Trump, while Progressive Priorities PAC was meant to back Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Prosecutors say that of the roughly $3.5 million raked in through the PACs “only approximately $19 were distributed to any candidate’s authorized campaign committee or to any political cause.”
They allege that more than $1.5 million “was used to benefit” the three men.
Tunstall and Reyes also allegedly funneled $350,000 of the illegal contributions through a third-party vendor to hide the use of the funds for personal purposes, according to the indictment.
All three defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to make a false statement to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), in addition to multiple counts of wire fraud. Tunstall and Reyes were also charged with money laundering.
If convicted on all counts, Tunstall and Reyes face a maximum of 125 years in prison, while Davies would be subject to a maximum of 65 years in prison.
According to the indictment, the PACs solicited money thorough “false and misleading representations,” including robocalls using the voices of the candidates and written and radio advertisements. They also reportedly offered stickers and signed photos of candidates for larger donations.
The indictment said the three men used the funds raised through the fraudulent PACs “to pay for additional fraudulent solicitations for money, to enrich themselves directly, and to support their independent, unrelated business ventures.”
Tunstall has previously been accused of running questionable PACs, according to Politico. This past spring he was reportedly linked to a number of PACs that used Trump’s name to raise millions, but ultimately funneled little of that money to the campaign or initiatives.
According to a July report from CNN, he has used those funds to finance a lavish lifestyle marked by Porsche cars and Gucci rings.
Tunstall made his initial court appearance on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Reyes and Davies were slated to make their first appearances in the U.S. District Courts for the Northern District of California and the Western District of Texas, respectively, on Wednesday.
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