National roundup: D’Souza pleads guilty to using straw donors

May 20
MISSOURI
NEW YORK
D’Souza pleads guilty to using straw donors

Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative pundit, author and filmmaker, pleaded guilty Tuesday to using straw donors to make an illegal contribution to a Republican Senate candidate from New York in 2012.

His attorney, Benjamin Brafman, released a statement saying that D’Souza has “agreed to accept responsibility” for the illegal donation made in the names of two close associates. At the hearing in U.S. District Court in New York, prosecutors agreed to drop the more serious of two charges against him, leaving D’Souza liable for one count of making an illegal donation, meaning he could still be sentenced to up to two years in prison. His attorney said that the author should not be imprisoned. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for September.

Prosecutors had alleged that D’Souza, 53, arranged in 2012 to have two friends contribute $10,000 on behalf of themselves and their spouses to the campaign of Wendy Long, a Republican who at the time was challenging Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D).

The donations were made, prosecutors said, with an understanding that D’Souza would reimburse his friends for their contributions. The result was a $20,000 contribution, exceeding the $5,000 limit on individual donations that was in place at the time.

D’Souza, whose books include “The Roots of Obama’s Rage,” went to Dartmouth College with Long and he co-hosted a fundraiser for her during the campaign.

— Tom Hamburger

OREGON
Web site developers
receive subpoenas

Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed state records for a grand jury investigation of the troubled Cover Oregon health insurance Web site, the governor’s office said Tuesday.

The state abandoned its plans for an independent online exchange after it failed to launch and Cover Oregon and its independent contractor, Oracle Corp., couldn’t fix it. Oregon decided to switch to the federal portal, the first state to do so.

The governor’s office released subpoenas Tuesday issued by the U.S. attorney’s office. The subpoenas were issued to both Cover Oregon and the Oregon Health Authority, which originally developed the exchange. They demand records of communications between state officials involved in developing the Web site, five of whom have resigned.

A probe ordered by Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) found state managers failed to heed reports about problems that prevented the Web site from launching.

— Associated Press

NATIONAL SECURITY
Man admits guilt in Navy bribery probe

A third defendant has pleaded guilty in a multimillion-dollar Navy bribery investigation involving a Singapore-based defense contractor charged with providing cash, vacations, electronics and prostitutes in exchange for classified information.

Daniel Layug entered his plea Tuesday in San Diego to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery. The 27-year-old petty officer admits providing classified shipping schedules and other internal Navy information to the contractor in exchange for $1,000 a month, a digital camera and other consumer electronics and travel. The investigation centers on Leonard Glenn Francis and his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia. Francis was arrested in September and has pleaded not guilty.

— Associated Press

North Miami mayor held in fraud scheme: The mayor of North Miami has surrendered to federal agents after she was charged with others in an $8 million mortgage fraud scheme. The FBI confirmed Tuesday that Lucie Tondreau, 54, was in custody. Gov. Rick Scott (R) has suspended Tondreau (D) from office. Prosecutors say Tondreau and three others conspired before she became mayor to defraud lenders using straw buyers to obtain inflated loans to buy 20 properties. Tondreau was elected North Miami’s first female Haitian American mayor last June.

Forest Service bans exploding targets in Western states: The U.S. Forest Service has banned exploding targets in northern Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and portions of South Dakota because of wildfire and public safety concerns. Northern Region Forester Faye Krueger announced Tuesday the regional closure that immediately prohibits exploding targets on national forest lands. Some target shooters use the exploding targets because they contain chemical components that mix when struck by a bullet and create a loud bang and big puff of smoke. But the Forest Service said exploding targets the past two years have started at least 16 wildfires in Western states that cost $33 million to fight. Agency officials also have concerns that the explosions launch debris that can injure bystanders.

— From news services

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