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Democratic fundraiser sentenced to 12 years for Ponzi scheme

Former Democratic Party fundraiser Hassan Nemazee was sentenced Thursday to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty in March to charges of bank fraud and wire fraud relating to his orchestration of $292 million pyramid scheme. The federal judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] also ordered Nemazee to pay $292 million in restitution to the banks that were the targets of the fraud. Nemazee spoke prior to the sentencing, stating that he takes responsibility for his crimes [WSJ report] and blaming his conduct on pride and arrogance. Nemazee had previously admitted to using forged documents [Bloomberg report] in order to borrow from banks, starting in the 1990s. He originally pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] last September after being indicted [text] on three counts of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. If the case had gone to trial, Nemzaee could have faced up to 30 years in prison for each charge of fraud. Nemazee, who was a fundraiser for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and other prominent Democrats, was ordered report to prison by August 27.

In May 2009, disgraced Democratic Party fundraiser Norman Hsu [JURIST news archive] was convicted [JURIST report] on charges of violating the Federal Elections Campaign Act (FECA) [text]. Hsu was accused of making illegal campaign contributions in other peoples' names in violation of the FECA. According to the indictment [JURIST report], Hsu also allegedly pressured clients to donate to his preferred democratic candidates and threatened to cut them off if they did not comply with his wishes. In September 2007, New York prosecutors charged [JURIST report] Hsu with orchestrating a $60 million Ponzi scheme in connection with the same events. Hsu pleaded guilty [NYT report] to those fraud charges in May. The FBI arrested Hsu in Colorado on federal charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution after Hsu failed to appear for a bail hearing in California on unrelated fraud charges on September 5, 2007. Hsu formerly raised funds for political candidates, including Clinton. Clinton agreed to return $850,000 she received from Hsu when news of the charges became public.

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