A California Congressman’s father was sentenced to one year and a day in prison today for illegally funneling $260,000 to campaigns for his son, U.S. Rep. Ami Bera. The L.A. Times reports:
Babulal Bera, a retired chemical engineer who emigrated from India and watched his oldest son win election to the U.S. House of Representatives, was sentenced Thursday to one year and one day in federal prison for organizing a money-laundering scheme that helped fund two of his son’s campaigns.
It was a sentence that defense attorneys for Bera, 83, argued was too severe, but one U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley said was appropriate.
“This is more than just a naive person who doesn’t know how elections work,” Nunley said during the sentencing hearing in Sacramento. “The defendant’s efforts were calculated.”
Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) was not in the courtroom to see his father convicted of two counts of federal campaign finance violations. The two-term Democrat has denied knowing about the secret donations and has expressed disappointment in his father’s actions.
Babulal Bera did not speak to reporters as he left the courtroom in downtown Sacramento. His sentence, which was lighter than federal guidelines that call for up to three years in prison, included a fine of $100,200. He must surrender to federal authorities within 90 days.
Prosecutors said Bera conducted an elaborate operation of soliciting donations from friends and family for his son’s first two congressional campaigns in 2010 and 2012. Each of those individual donations was within the legal maximum of primary and general election donations, a total of $5,000 in 2012. But the elder Bera either quietly gave those donors the money to make their donations or ultimately repaid them after the contributions were made.
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