Thursday, August 18, 2016
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Babulal Bera, 83, of La Palma, was sentenced today to 12 months and a day in prison for making excessive campaign contributions and making campaign contributions in the name of another. Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting United States Attorney Phillip A. Talbert made the announcement.
According to court documents, in 2010 and 2012, Bera’s son was a candidate for a seat in the United States Congress representing District 3 (2010) and District 7 (2012) from the state of California. With respect to both elections, the defendant made the maximum allowable individual contributions to his son’s campaign, and he also solicited friends, family members and acquaintances to make contributions, which he then reimbursed with his own funds. Bera did this to make contributions to his son’s campaign in excess of the contribution limits established by federal law. With respect to the 2010 and 2012 elections, the government has identified over 130 improper campaign contributions totaling over $260,000 and involving approximately 90 contributors living in multiple states.
In imposing the sentence recommended by the government, the Court balanced the serious nature of Bera’s offense with the defendant’s advanced age and associated health issues. The Court said the defendant’s conduct was “calculated,” and “cuts to the heart of the integrity we expect of elections.”
“The District Court gave thorough and thoughtful consideration to the arguments of both parties in imposing sentence,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Talbert. “That sentence, which is significant given this defendant’s age, sends a clear message that campaign finance crimes are serious offenses that will result in real consequences.”
“Mr. Babulal Bera knew the law when it came to campaign contributions, but he tried to beat the system using straw donors,” said Monica Miller, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Sacramento Field Office. “His sentence demonstrates the U.S. Government takes these crimes seriously and will spare no effort to defend the integrity of the electoral process which is the foundation of American democracy.”
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys John K. Vincent and Philip A. Ferrari, and Department of Justice Public Integrity Section Trial Attorney Richard Evans prosecuted the case.