Former Campaign Treasurer Indicted On Federal Charges, Accused Of Stealing More Than $115,000-Defendant Allegedly Used Money For Trips, Retail Goods, Limousine Services-
WASHINGTON - Hakim J. Sutton, 32, of Washington, D.C., has been indicted on federal charges accusing him of stealing more than $115,000 from a District of Columbia political campaign in which he served as the treasurer and custodian of records.
The indictment, unsealed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, was announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), and Thomas J. Kelly, Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
Sutton was named in a sealed indictment returned by a grand jury on Feb. 21, 2014. The charges include five counts of wire fraud, two tax offenses, six counts of filing false and misleading campaign finance reports, and one count of first-degree theft. The indictment includes a forfeiture allegation seeking a money judgment representing proceeds from the crimes.
According to the indictment, Sutton was the principal owner of the Sutton Group, which performed political consulting services in the District of Columbia and elsewhere. In 2011 and 2012, Sutton served as the treasurer and custodian of records for the campaign of a candidate seeking re-election to an at-large seat on the Council of the District of Columbia. The candidate, identified in court documents as “Candidate A,” ultimately lost in the November 2012 election.
According to the indictment, between September 2011 and May 2012, Sutton diverted approximately $115,250 from the campaign bank account to himself by depositing the funds drawn from the campaign bank account into his own personal bank accounts, and converting funds drawn from the campaign bank account to cash. All told, while serving as the campaign treasurer and in his capacity as a signatory on the campaign bank account, Sutton allegedly wrote 36 checks payable to himself and drawn from the campaign bank account.
Sutton used the money at various retailers, the indictment alleges, such as Gucci, Armani Exchange, and the Apple Store; to pay for limousine and car services, and to pay expenses for various trips, including to Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., Las Vegas, Miami, and other places.
The indictment alleges that Sutton omitted references to the checks that he had written to himself in a series of six reports he filed with the District of Columbia Office of Campaign Finance. Sutton also is accused of tax evasion and failing to file a tax return for calendar 2011.
“Hakim Sutton is charged with looting a political campaign of more than $115,000,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “According to the indictment, Sutton stole political donors’ money to go shopping at Gucci and Ferragamo and to travel to Las Vegas, Miami Beach, and Greece. This indictment reflects our commitment to ensuring integrity and transparency in the way political campaigns operate in the District of Columbia.”
“The theft of campaign funds impacts the donors’ right to participate in the election process, and the constituents are the ultimate victim,” said Special Agent in Charge Kelly. “This indictment reaffirms that IRS-CI is committed to working with the US Attorney’s Office and the Metropolitan Police Department to ensure political campaigns in the District of Columbia are transparent.”
An indictment is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal laws and every defendant is presumed innocent until, and unless, proven guilty.
This case was investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bryan Seeley and David A. Last, of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section, and Anthony Saler, of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section. Assistance was provided by former Paralegal Specialist Shanna Hays and Nicole Wattelet, Legal Assistant Angela Lawrence, and former Paralegal Specialist Lenisse Edloe.