Dinesh D’Souza told a federal judge on Tuesday that he “deeply” regretted violating a federal campaign finance law, and that he knew that what he did had been wrong, during a hearing in which the conservative author pleaded guilty to making more than $10,000 of contributions in the names of others.
“I knew that making a campaign contribution in the name of another was wrong and something the law forbids,” D’Souza told U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan, according to The New York Times. “I deeply regret my conduct.”
“Are you pleading guilty to this crime because you are in fact guilty of it?” Berman asked in response.
“Yes, your honor,” D’Souza said.
Prosecutors in January accused D’Souza of using straw donors to contribute $20,000 to the campaign of Wendy Long, a Republican attorney and old friend of D’Souza’s who in 2012 lost to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). In addition to the one count of making more than $10,000 of contributions in the names of others, D’Souza was charged with one count of causing false statements. According to Reuters, the false statements charge is expected to be dismissed at D’Souza’s sentencing.
Prior to entering his guilty plea on Tuesday, D’Souza had repeatedly maintained his innocence in the case, and his lawyer had argued that D’Souza was being targeted for his history of criticizing President Obama. But in a statement issued Tuesday, D’Souza’s attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said that “[g]iven the technical nature of the charge [against D’Souza], there was no viable defense.”
“Mr. D’Souza agreed to accept responsibility for having urged two close associates to make contributions of $10,000 each to the unsuccessful 2012 senate campaign of Wendy Long and then reimbursing them for their contributions,” Brafman said. “We are hopeful that Judge Berman will recognize Mr. D’Souza to be a fundamentally honorable man who should not be imprisoned for what was an isolated instance of wrongdoing in an otherwise productive and responsible life.”
The Times reported Tuesday that D’Souza is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 23, and that Berman indicated he could face up to two years in prison. D’Souza’s plea agreement, however, states that sentencing guidelines call for 10 to 16 months.