Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Husband and Wife Plead Guilty to Fraudulently Misrepresenting Authority From Former Presidential Candidate

To: National Desk
Contact: U.S. Department of Justice, 202-514-2008 or 202-514-1888 (TDD); Web: http://releases.usnewswire.com/redir.asp?ReleaseID=57112&Link=http://WWW.USDOJ.GOV
WASHINGTON, Nov. 22 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division announced today that William and Blanchi Dugatkin have pled guilty to making fraudulent misrepresentations for the purpose of soliciting campaign contributions, in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). Without any authority to do so, the Dugatkins attempted to plan and carry out a bogus fundraiser for the 2004 presidential campaign of former Congressman Richard A. Gephardt. As a result of today's plea, each defendant faces to up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
On June 29, 2005, the defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia on charges of wire fraud and attempted wire fraud in connection with their scheme to defraud the 2004 presidential campaign of former Congressman Gephardt and potential donors to the Gephardt campaign. Subsequently, on September 26, 2005, the Dugatkins were charged by information with making fraudulent misrepresentations, and conspiring to make such misrepresentations, in violation of the FECA.
Today, the defendants pled guilty in the District of Columbia to the first count of the information, which charged them with making fraudulent misrepresentations for the purpose of soliciting contributions. It alleges that, from June through August 2003, the Dugatkins, acting under the aliases Bill Baulding and Jade Newhart and through a company they controlled called "Never Stop Dreaming, Inc.," fraudulently misrepresented themselves as speaking, writing, and acting for Congressman Gephardt for the purpose of soliciting contributions that would aggregate $2,000 or more. The Dugatkins made these misrepresentations in planning a fake Gephardt fundraiser at the National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. As part of their scheme, the Dugatkins met with officials from the Museum and others and said that they were close personal friends of the Gephardt family, that they had been authorized by the Gephardt campaign to hold the fundraiser, and that they were working directly with the candidate and his wife on the particulars of the fundraising event. In fact, the Gephardts had never heard of the defendants or their company. Moreover, neither Gephardt nor anyone on his campaign staff had authorized the fundraiser. The fundraiser ultimately did not take place.
The Gephardt campaign initially provided allegations regarding the defendants' civil conduct to both the Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which shares jurisdiction with the Department over violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act. At the request of the FEC and the defendants, the plea agreement reflects a global settlement of both the criminal and civil campaign violations. As part of the settlement, the defendants will cease and desist from misrepresenting their authority from federal candidates, and the FEC will not seek a civil penalty.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution is being handled by John P. Pearson and Nancy L. Simmons of the Public Integrity Section of the United States Department of Justice, headed by Section Chief Noel L. Hillman.
/© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/


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