Ex-U.S. House candidate indicted on federal election charges

AP National News

BOSTON (AP) — A former longshot Massachusetts candidate for the U.S. House has been indicted on charges that he solicited illegal campaign contributions and used campaign money to pay business debts, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Abhijit “Beej” Das is charged with Federal Election Campaign Act violations and making false statements.

Das ran in the 2018 Democratic primary for Massachusetts’ 3rd Congressional District won by Rep. Lori Trahan, coming in seventh place with 1,492 votes.

Authorities say Das solicited money from friends and close associates and developed a scheme to circumvent campaign contribution limits by disguising the funds as personal loans.

He also used at least $267,000 from his campaign account to pay debts for his hotel business and then tried to cover up his actions, authorities say.

“We believe Mr. Das engineered this calculated scheme to show he was a viable candidate for office, at the expense of voters and the election process,” Joseph Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI Boston’s office, said in an emailed statement. “The FBI will continue to investigate allegations of campaign finance abuse like these to ensure openness and fairness in our elections so that everyone’s interests are protected.”

Das has pleaded not guilty and his lawyer urged the public not to “jump to any conclusions based solely upon the allegations.”

“Time and again, cases that have a political component are inherently complicated,” Neil Faigel said in an email. “At this time, and at this juncture, it would be premature to comment further.”

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