East Bay developer convicted of illegal donations to Swalwell campaigns

A federal jury convicted East Bay real estate developer James Tong Tuesday of making tens of thousands of dollars of illegal contributions to two of Rep. Eric Swalwell’s congressional campaigns.

Tong was convicted of funneling $38,000 to Swalwell’s first campaign in 2012 and his re-election campaign in 2014 through a series of straw donors — a scheme designed to evade the federal donation limits, which were then $2,500 and $2,600.

The network of illegal donors included “dozens of conduits who agreed to write checks in exchange for a commensurate amount” passed in envelopes of cash from Tong, prosecutors said in a statement.

Swalwell, D-Dublin, who was not accused of wrongdoing in the case, said he donated the money to charity and only learned about the straw donor setup when he was told by the FBI in 2017.

“Justice was served for a campaign supporter of mine who violated the law,” Swalwell said in a statement. “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.”

Tong’s lawyers had argued in court filings that prosecutors violated an agreement with him, asking for the case to be dismissed.

Tong, 74, is scheduled to be sentenced before judge Jon Tigar in December. He faces a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a fine of 10 times the amount of illegal donations.

Source: Mercury news
East Bay developer convicted of illegal donations to Swalwell campaigns