Despite Donations To Girl Scouts, PMA Lobbyist Gets 27 Months

Former super-lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti was sentenced today to 27 months in prison, a spokesman for the Justice Department told TPM.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia, told TPM that the hearing, which began at 1 p.m., lasted until 5:30 p.m.Magliocchetti pleaded guilty to making hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions and making false statements to a federal agency as the founder and president of the lobbying firm PMA Group Inc. Though the crime was described by prosecutors as one of the largest schemes to violate campaign finance law, the politicians who received the campaign donations, including the late Rep. John Murtha and Rep. Pete Visclosky, (D-Ind.), were unaware of the plans, according to the Justice Department.

TPM reported this week that a psychologist hired by Magliocchetti’s team said that he would be at a “high risk for suicide” if he was incarcerated.

As the Washington Times reported, Magliocchetti’s lawyers brought up his donations dating back to 2005 in arguing for lighter sentencing. Among the donations: over $33,000 to The Girl Scouts; $500 for the Capital Area Food Bank;, $7,500 for an opera festival; and $46,600 to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

Magliocchetti’s lawyers argued in court documents filed in December that he should receive leniency because of “Mr. Magliocchetti donated not only his time and talents, but also hundreds of thousands of dollars to numerous charities over the years, many in the Washington, D.C. area and his home state of Pennsylvania.”

But Maggliocchetti’s lawyers failed to mention that many of the legitimate charitable organizations that received donations were also pet organizations of the congressmen Maggliocchetti lobbied.

According to lists of charitable donations submitted to the court, Magliochetti donations went to many Johnstown, Pennsylvania cultural and charitable organizations. The economic rejuvenation of Johnsown, a small city in western Pennsylvania which happened to be the hometown of Rep. John Murtha (D), was a personal project of the late Representative.

For instance, Magliocchetti donated to the Johnstown symphony, including $12,500 for Opera Festival, and $40,030 for other purposes. The Washington Times article notes that Joyce Murtha, the representative’s wife, is a big supporter of the symphony, and that Murtha himself used $14,400 in campaign funds to buy tickets and advertising from the symphony. Magliocchetti also donated $56,050 to the Johnstown Girl Scouts Council and $22,050 to the Johnstown non-profit Women’s Help Center.

Late Update: “Paul Magliocchetti spent half of a decade gaming the system. He concocted a massive scheme to secretly funnel money to political campaigns – all so that he could gain wealth and prestige,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said in a statement. “As today’s sentence makes clear, he must now pay a price.”

U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil MacBride said in a statement that Magliocchetti “carried out one of the largest federal campaign finance frauds in history.”

“He learned that no one – despite wealth and influence – is above the law,” MacBride said. “Today’s sentence should put anyone on notice that if you seek to buy the influence of elected public officials through skirting the campaign finance laws you’ll not merely be exposed publicly but you’ll go to prison for a long time.”

[Ed. note: this story was updated after publication.]

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