BOSTON - Arthur Winn was sentenced today in federal court for violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act’s prohibitions on making campaign contributions in the names of strawmen or conduits.
Winn, 72, of Brookline, was sentenced by U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith G. Dein to a $100,000 fine after pleading guilty to two counts of making campaign contributions through conduits on Nov. 8, 2011. Winn paid a total of 96 campaign contributions through conduits totaling over $64,000, over nearly an eight year period.
Winn solicited and made campaign contributions to a wide variety of candidates for elected office with the hope that these elected officials would generally support his company’s development projects, including Winn Columbus Center Limited Partnership’s development of Columbus Center. Columbus Center was a mixed-use development that was to be built over the Massachusetts Turnpike and, at times, was designed to include a luxury hotel, condominiums, retail stores, and other amenities.
Additionally, evidence would have shown that Winn reimbursed persons for campaign contributions that he requested they make to certain federal, state, and local candidates of his choosing. In so doing, he concealed the true source of these contributions from the Federal Election Commission and similar state authorities, and, in some cases, avoided the statutory annual limits on the amounts that persons could contribute to candidates for elected office.
“The concealment of a political donor’s identity, particularly when that donor depends on public financing and the support of public officials as a core part of his business, erodes public confidence in free and fair elections,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “The government recommended a six month jail sentence for Mr. Winn because of the seriousness of his conduct and to act as a deterrent for wealthy donors who use conduits to funnel money to political candidates. We will continue to pursue these election crimes and press for incarceration rather than fines, holding individuals accountable for their actions.”
On Nov. 30, 2011, Winn Columbus Center Limited Partnership, the real estate development company in which Winn was a partner, pleaded guilty to multiple violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act’s prohibitions on making campaign contributions in the names of strawmen or conduits. The company was sentenced to a $1.5 million fine and one year of probation by U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro.
In addition, in September 2010, Martin Raffol, another company executive, pleaded guilty to a concealment scheme involving conduit contributions and witness tampering. Raffol was asked to obtain campaign contributions from numerous vendors who performed work for the company for candidates of Winn’s choosing. In response to the increasing demand to solicit these contributions from company vendors, Raffol reimbursed some vendors for the campaign contributions solicited from them. These reimbursements came in, among other forms, payments for inflated or false invoices, including invoices billed to certain publically-subsidized housing communities. The true source of these contributions was disguised from the FEC and state authorities, and, in some cases, circumvented the statutory prohibition on corporate contributions.
In December 2011, Raffol was sentenced to three months of community confinement as part of one year of probation, a $20,000 fine, and community service by U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns.
U.S. Attorney Ortiz and Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division made the announcement today. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan M. DiSantis of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.