FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECRM
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21, 2000(202) 616-2777
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
THAI BUSINESSWOMEN AGREE TO PLEAD GUILTY
TO CAMPAIGN FINANCING CHARGES
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Pauline Kanchanalak, a Thai national, and Duangnet Kronenberg today agreed to plead guilty to campaign financing-related offenses and to cooperate in the Justice Department's ongoing investigation, the Campaign Financing Task Force announced. Kanchanalak and Kronenberg will enter their guilty pleas before the U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman in Washington D.C. at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, June 23, 2000. The two are among 25 people charged by the Campaign Financing Task Force, which was established four years ago by Attorney Janet Reno to investigate allegations of campaign financing abuses in the 1996 election cycle.
In a plea agreement, filed today in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., Kanchanalak agreed to plead guilty to a 2-count criminal Superseding Information, which also was filed with the court today. Count One of the Information charges Kanchanalak with participating in a conspiracy to cause false statements to be made to the Federal Election Commission from 1992-1996. According to the Information, she conspired to use foreign funds to make prohibited federal and non-federal political contributions to the Democratic National Committee and other campaign committees. She further conspired to have those committees report the illegal contributions to the FEC without the true source of the illegal contributions being detected by the FEC.
According to the plea documents, Kanchanalak caused more than $690,000 in foreign money to be contributed to the DNC and other political committees between 1992 and 1996. All of the illegal contributions were made on checks drawn on the accounts of Duangnet Kronenberg and Praitun Kanchanalak, who is Duangnet Kronenberg's mother and Pauline Kanchanalak's mother-in-law. A portion of the funds that were used to make the illegal contributions were provided to Kronenberg and Praitun Kanchanalak by Ban Chang International (USA), Inc. (BCI), a Cayman Islands corporation of which Pauline Kanchanalak was President. Duangnet Kronenberg also was an officer of BCI.
According to the Superseding Information, Kanchanalak engaged in the conspiracy in order to gain favor with the DNC, and thereby to gain attendance to fundraising and political events with President Clinton, members of his Administration, and prominent members of the business community. Kanchanalak and her coconspirators believed this would help develop business and networking opportunities for Kanchanalak and BCI's clients. More than $457,000 of the illegal contributions caused by Pauline Kanchanalak were provided to the DNC and five state Democratic party committees in connection with a "coffee" held at the White House on June 18, 1996. The coffee was attended by, among others, President Clinton, Pauline Kanchanalak, John Huang, and two executives of Charoen Pokphand Group (also known as the CP Group), a Thai corporation.
Count Two of the Superseding Information charges Pauline Kanchanalak with causing BCI to make an illegal $20,000 corporate contribution to the DNC's federal account in May 1994, in criminal violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act ("FECA").
Kanchanalak faces maximum penalties of six years of imprisonment and a fine of $350,000.
Duangnet Kronenberg has agreed to plead guilty to a one-count criminal Superseding Information charging her with causing BCI to make an illegal $10,000 corporate contribution to the DNC's federal account in February 1996, in criminal violation of the FECA. Kronenberg faces a maximum penalty of one year of imprisonment and a fine of $100,000.
In July 1998, Kanchanalak and Kronenberg were indicted on charges connected to the conduct to which they have now agreed to plead guilty. In December 1998 and February 1999, Judge Friedman dismissed various counts in the pending indictment against the two, but the Task Force appealed Judge Friedman's decisions, and obtained a reversal of those rulings in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. All of the dismissed counts were reinstated by the D.C. Circuit, which held, among other things, that, under current law, foreign nationals may not contribute either federal ("hard") or non-federal ("soft") money to campaign committees in the United States.
After the appellate decision was rendered, the court ultimately rescheduled the trial for November 13, 2000. In exchange for their guilty pleas, the Task Force has agreed to dismiss the pending indictment at the time of Kanchanalak's and Kronenberg's sentencings.
In addition to Pauline Kanchanalak and Duangnet Kronenberg, the Task Force has prosecuted 23 other individuals.
On June 6, 2000, Audrey Yu, an employee of David Chang, pled guilty in U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J., to conspiring to obstruct justice by providing a false document to a federal district court during the grand jury's investigation into campaign financing violations in New Jersey.
On June 2, 2000, David Chang pled guilty to charges that as a principal of Nikko Enterprises, Bright & Bright Corporation, Panacom Inc., and Hudson Terrace Realty Management Corporation, he conspired to funnel illegal campaign contributions to Senator Robert Torricelli's 1996 campaign. Chang also pled guilty to four substantive violations of the FECA for his role in funneling illegal campaign contributions in others names. Chang further pled guilty to corruptly attempting to persuade a potential grand jury witness to give false statements related to a financial transaction which was material to the grand jury investigation. Chang's sentencing date has been set for September 7, 2000.
On June 1, 2000, Cha-Kuek Koo, a Korean national residing in New Jersey, pled guilty to violating federal election law by making illegal contributions to Senator Torricelli's campaign. Koo admitted to assisting David Chang in making conduit contributions using Koo's employees at LG Group, Executive Office of the Americas. Koo's sentencing has also been set for September 7, 2000.
On April 5, 2000, a federal grand jury indicted two Buddhist nuns, Venerables Yi Chu and Man Ho, with contempt of court for failing to appear as witnesses in the government's criminal trial against Maria Hsia. Yi Chu and Man Ho remain fugitives.
On March 2, 2000, Maria Hsia was convicted in federal district court in Washington, D.C., on charges of causing false statements to be submitted to the FEC. The trial had been postponed pending an appeal of a ruling by the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., which had dismissed some of the false statement counts. In May 1999, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. overturned the ruling and reinstated those counts. The task force dismissed a second indictment on tax charges after a jury in Los Angeles failed to reach a verdict. Hsia awaits sentencing in September.
On December 17, 1999, Yogesh Gandhi was sentenced to one year in prison for mail fraud, tax evasion, and violating federal election laws by aiding and abetting the making of a political campaign contribution by a foreign national.
On November 1, 1999, Yah Lin "Charlie" Trie, a Little Rock, Arkansas businessman, was sentenced, after pleading guilty, to a two-count information filed in Little Rock, Arkansas, to three years probation, four months home detention, 200 hours of community service, and a $5,000 fine for violating federal campaign finance laws by making political contributions in someone else's name and by causing a false statement to be made the FEC. Antonio Pan was also indicted with Trie in the District of Columbia, but has not yet been prosecuted because he has remained outside the United States.
On September 15, 1999, Lawrence Penna, the former President of a now-defunct New Jersey securities firm, was charged with violating election laws by funneling illegal campaign contributions to the 1996 federal election campaigns of President Clinton and Senator Torricelli. Penna's case was transferred by agreement to the Southern District of New York, where charges relating to his violation of United States' securities laws were pending.
On August 16, 1999, a federal judge sentenced Robert S. Lee to three years of probation and 250 hours of community service for aiding and abetting the making of an illegal foreign campaign contribution to the Democratic National Committee.
On August 12, 1999, former Lippo Executive John Huang pleaded guilty to a felony charge, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, that he conspired with other employees of the Indonesia-based Lippo Group to make campaign contributions and reimburse employees with corporate funds or with funds from Indonesia. He was sentenced to one year of probation, 500 hours of community service, a $10,000 fine and directed by the judge to continue cooperating with the investigation as a condition of his probation.
In June 1999, Berek Don, former GOP party leader in Bergen County, NJ, pled guilty to another conduit contribution scheme to the Senator Torricelli Campaign. Don awaits sentencing. On December 1, 1999, Carmine Alampi, a Bergen County New Jersey attorney, pleaded guilty to the same scheme. He awaits sentencing.
On March 23, 1999, Juan C. Ortiz, the Chief Financial Officer of Future Tech International, Inc., was sentenced to two years probation, $20,000 in fines, and 200 hours in community service for acting as a conduit for an illegal campaign contribution and participating in the reimbursement of eight other conduit contributions.
On December 14, 1998, Johnny Chung was sentenced to probation and 3,000 hours of community service for bank fraud, tax evasion and two misdemeanor counts of conspiring to violate election law.
On November 24, 1998, Howard Glicken, a fund-raiser for the Democratic party, was sentenced to 18 months probation, an $80,000 fine, and ordered to perform 500 hours of community service for violating campaign finance laws.
On November 4, 1998, Franklin Haney was indicted on more than 40 counts, including among others, conspiring with another to defraud the United States by impairing and impeding the FEC and conspiring to violate specific provisions of federal election law. He was acquitted of all charges on June 30, 1999.
On September 30, 1998, Democratic fund-raiser Mark B. Jimenez was indicted in Washington, D.C. on 17 counts of organizing, making and concealing illegal conduit contributions to a number of Democratic campaigns, including the Torricelli Campaign. In December 1998, Future Tech International, Jimenez's Miami based computer sales company, pleaded guilty to tax offenses resulting from its illegal deduction of a $100,000 contribution to the DNC and employee campaign contributions reimbursed through the company's payroll. On April, 15, 1999, Jimenez, who is now in the Philippines, was indicted in Miami on additional charges of tax evasion and fraud. The task force is pursuing Jimenez's extradition from the Philippines.
In 1997, the Task Force obtained guilty pleas from Democratic fund-raisers Nora and Gene Lum, and their daughter Trisha, and Michael Brown for illegal fund-raising activities after their cases were referred from Independent Counsel Daniel Pearson. In August 1998, Gene Lum pleaded guilty to filing a false 1994 tax return and falsely preparing Nora Lum's 1994 tax return. After cooperating with the government, he was sentenced in June 1999, to two years in prison. Nora Lum was sentenced to 5 months in a halfway house, 5 months in home detention, and ordered to pay a $30,000 fine, a sentence which Gene Lum also served separate and apart from the sentence he received for his tax-related conviction. Trisha Lum and Michael Brown each received probation, a $5,000 fine, costs of more than $7,000, and were ordered to perform 150 hours of community service.