Former Treasurer of National Republican Congressional Committee Pleads Guilty to Embezzling $844,718 From Political Committees
District of Columbia Prosecution Supervised by Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office
Washington, D.C. - Christopher J. Ward, age 41, formerly of Bethesda, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to interstate transportation of stolen property in connection with a scheme to defraud the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and other political committees which were clients of his accounting and consulting business. The plea was taken by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who scheduled sentencing for December 2, 2010 at 10:00 a.m.
The United States Attorney for the District of Maryland was designated by the Attorney General to handle the case in April, following the recusal of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and FBI Assistant Director in Charge of the Washington Field Office Shawn Henry.
“Christopher J. Ward was trusted to oversee other people’s money, and he violated that trust by diverting nearly $850,000 into his own pocket and creating fraudulent documentation to conceal the theft,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Mr. Ward then caused false reports to be filed with the Federal Election Commission concerning the expenditure of the political contributions.”
“Mr. Ward claimed to operate an accounting business that helped clients comply with federal election laws, while he was filing false documents with the Federal Election Commission to hide the fact that he was stealing money,” said Assistant Director Henry. “The FBI has a responsibility to investigate and uncover fraudulent financial reporting related to federal elections in order to protect the public’s confidence in democracy and the election process.”
According to the plea agreement, Ward worked in the NRCC’s accounting department and in 2003 became the NRCC’s Treasurer. In addition, Ward operated a business specializing in accounting services and compliance with Federal Election Commission regulations for political committees and candidates. From 2001 through 2006, Ward also served as Treasurer for the President’s Dinner Committees, which ran the annual joint fund-raising dinners sponsored by the NRCC and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), featuring a keynote address by the President of the United States.
Ward admitted that from March 5, 2001 through December 2007, he stole approximately $844,718 by issuing unauthorized checks and wire transfers from the NRCC and political committees who were clients of his business, using the funds for his personal benefit. In some instances, Ward issued unauthorized checks and wire transfers from the NRCC to bank accounts for the President’s Dinner Committees, that Ward controlled, and he then transferred the funds to his personal bank accounts. In order to conceal the theft, at or near the times of the unauthorized payments, Ward filed with the Federal Election Commission, and caused others to file, reports that contained false information.
Ward faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The defendant has agreed with the Government that a sentence of 37 months in prison would be an appropriate disposition of the case. As part of the plea agreement, Ward is also required to make restitution of $812,825 to his victims. Ward already had replaced $31,893 of the money he had stolen prior to being charged.
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Special Agents from FBI's Washington Field Office who conducted this investigation and commended District of Columbia Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Haray, who was appointed as a Special Attorney to handle the criminal prosecution, District of Columbia Paralegal Maggie McCabe, who assisted in the prosecution and District of Columbia Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Lucas, who is handling a related forfeiture action. Mr. Rosenstein also thanked Maryland First Assistant U.S. Attorney Stuart M. Goldberg and Southern Division Chief Stuart A. Berman, who were designated as Special Attorneys to supervise the case.