Federal criminal investigations often take years before a grand jury is convened to hear evidence. Unlike a jury trial, a grand jury only hears evidence from prosecuting attorneys. That's because unless and until the grand jury determines the prosecutors have a case, there are no defendants to defend. If the grand jury finds the prosecutorial evidence credible, an indictment is handed up detailing charges and naming defendants.
Three men from Texas and California were indicted on Nov. 2, 2021, by a federal grand jury in Austin, Texas, the U.S. Department of Justice reported. They stand accused of scheming to defraud political donors of $3.5 million in 2016 and 2017.
What Are the Charges?
The men are accused of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and money laundering. One of the defendants may be subject to a “superseding indictment” for ongoing fraudulent activities extending into 2021.
The indictment alleges they operated two bogus political action committees (PACs), Liberty Action Group and Progressive Priorities. Using advertising and robocalls, they purportedly used sound and images to misrepresent presidential Candidate 1, Candidate 2, and the political parties backing them. Although not named in the indictment, the New York Times identified the candidates as Donald Trump and Joseph Biden.
The Times further reported the defendants targeted “unsuspecting small donors” and either spent the money on themselves or directed the money to companies they owned.
What Are the Penalties?
If convicted, two defendants each face maximum sentences of 125 years in prison. The third defendant could be sentenced to 65 years, according to the New York Times.
Furthermore, the Nov. 2 indictment now before the United States District Court of the Western District of Texas recognizes that by now, the money might have been spent, transferred to a third party, or placed out the court's jurisdiction. Therefore, “the United States will seek to forfeit any other property of the defendant up to the total value of the property subject to forfeiture.”
Hire an Attorney
The federal government often spends years investigating and building a case that a grand jury must then ratify. If you've been arrested and charged with federal crimes in the Los Angeles area, you need an experienced federal criminal defense attorney. Call the Sigal Law Group at 818-325-0570 for a free consultation.