Oakland, California - Tuesday, a federal jury found an Oakland-area real estate developer guilty for funneling tens of thousands of dollars through straw donors into two consecutive congressional campaigns for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Eric Michael Swalwell Jr. a democrat.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, United States Attorney David L. Anderson for the Northern District of California and Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office made the announcement.
After a 10-day trial, James Tong, 74, of Fremont, California, was found guilty of two counts of making conduit contributions. According to the evidence presented at trial, in 2012 and 2013 Tong used two primary straw donors as recruiters for his conduit scheme. Tong leveraged financial obligations and the implied loss of business opportunities to induce these individuals to distribute cash in the community to be donated to the initial and reelection campaigns of a candidate who was running for office in the U.S. House of Representatives. The network of straw donors included dozens of conduits who agreed to write checks in exchange for a commensurate amount of cash sourced from Tong. Tong provided envelopes of cash to the two intermediaries and directed them to reimburse individuals for their contributions. Tong also directed an intermediary to conceal the scheme by instructing the conduits not to deposit the cash and later directed the intermediary to withhold information from the FBI after he was interviewed.
Sentencing has been scheduled for December 13.
Eric Michael Swalwell Jr. is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for California's 15th congressional district since 2013. A member of the Democratic Party, his district covers most of eastern Alameda County and part of central Contra Costa County.
The FBI conducted the investigation. Trial Attorneys Amanda R. Vaughn and Rebecca G. Ross of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney S. Waqar Hasib of the Northern District of California prosecuted the case.