UNITED STATES—The United States Department of Justice announced on Tuesday, October 8, the conviction of California real estate developer, James Tong, 74 of Fremont, CA who was found guilty by a jury and his role in using straw donors to send thousands of dollars in two separate campaigns of Congressman Eric Swalwell.
After a 10-day trial, Tong was found guilty of two counts of conduit contributions. According to the evidence presented at the trial, he used two primary straw donors in his scheme in 2012 and 2013.
The press release indicates Tong persuaded his donors into giving by claiming the loss of business to convince them to distribute cash throughout the community. The Department of Justice referred to this group as a network of straw donors who agreed to write checks in exchange for a certain amount of cash.
Tong provided the cash to his two intermediaries instructing them to reimburse those who were making the campaign contributions. He instructed his constituents to be discreet and not to deposit the cash, and directed his intermediaries to withhold information from the FBI.
Eric Swalwell represents the 15th Congressional District in California. Swalwell was a Democratic Presidential contender who dropped out of the race to pursue re-election into Congress.
Prosecutors stated that the total amount of funds funneled was $38,000 exceeding the limits of individual contributions. These contributions were for the 2012 congressional campaign and the 2014 re-election campaign.
Swalwell publicly denied prior knowledge of Tong’s scheme in the following statement:
“Justice was served today for a campaign supporter of mine who violated the law. From the moment I was notified that my campaign was a victim of fraud, I assisted the FBI to obtain the records they needed to conduct their investigation. All the donations to my campaign, in this case, were subsequently donated to local charities.”
Tong has been a staunch supporter of Swalwell’s campaign since he served on the city council of Dublin. He has been charged with a felony in the past for violating the Endangered Species Act and ordered to pay $1 million in damages in 2016 for grading a Dublin development in a manner that would harm the habitat of a threatened species, the California Tiger Salamander.
Eric Swalwell Donor James Tong & his company Wildlife Management LLC were first Indicted in 2013 On 2 counts of felony & 18 counts of depositing polutenta into state waters during work on his Dublin Ramch North Project.https://t.co/zpt4NhPZL7
— BenTallmadge (@BenKTallmadge) October 8, 2019
The FBI conducted the investigation, where sentencing is scheduled for December 13.