John Huang, a central figure in the more than two-year-old investigation of campaign fund-raising abuses during the 1996 election, pleaded guilty yesterday to conspiracy to defraud the Federal Election Commission as part of a plea agreement reached earlier with federal prosecutors.
Appearing in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Huang was sentenced to one year's probation, a $10,000 fine and 500 hours of community service. A condition of the probation is that Huang will continue to cooperate with government investigators, prosecutors said.
Huang, a former official of the Commerce Department and the Democratic National Committee, helped generate about $2 million in 1996 contributions that the DNC ultimately returned because the funds came from illegal or suspect sources. But in hours of interviews with government investigators, Huang never provided evidence linking other White House and Democratic Party officials to criminal activity. The conspiracy charge to which Huang pleaded guilty did not involve the 1996 campaign but rather contributions to Democratic campaigns in California in 1993 and 1994.
House Government Reform and Oversight Committee Chairman Dan Burton (R-Ind.) had asked for a delay in Huang's sentencing, arguing that, once sentenced, Huang would have no incentive to cooperate with the House committee, which is seeking his testimony. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. O'Brien said yesterday there is "no basis in fact" for Burton's assertion because Huang's probation is conditioned on his continued cooperation with investigators, including congressional committees.