FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CRM
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 1998 (202) 616-2777
TDD (202) 514-1888
MARIA HSIA INDICTED
Attorney General Janet Reno announced that the Justice Department's Campaign Financing Task Force secured the indictment of Maria Hsia today. The indictment charges Hsia, a Los Angeles immigration consultant and Democratic National Committee fundraiser, with conspiring to defraud the United States and causing the submission of false statements to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
The International Buddhist Progress Society, commonly known as the Hsi Lai Temple, was named as an unindicted coconspirator. The Temple is located in Hacienda Heights, California.
"This is yet another step forward in the Justice Department's investigation of campaign finance abuses associated with the 1996 election," said Reno.
On January 29, the Task Force secured the indictment of Charlie Trie and Antonio Pan on charges relating to their fund-raising activities. Last year, the Task Force obtained guilty pleas from Democratic fund-raisers Nora and Gene Lum, their daughter Trisha, and Michael Brown for illegal fund-raising activities.
Today's indictment alleges that Hsia, 47, conspired to defraud the United States by various means. Specifically, the indictment alleges that corporate money belonging to the Temple was used to make secret, disguised and illegal campaign contributions to federal, state and local candidates and their political committees.
The scheme used a variety of conduits, including Temple monks and nuns, Temple volunteers, Hsia's clients, and Hsia herself. According to the allegations, Hsia and the Temple caused the conduits to make contributions to various political campaigns and committees, including the DNC, Clinton/Gore '96, Senator Ted Kennedy's 1994 reelection campaign, Congressman Patrick Kennedy's 1996 reelection campaign, March Fong Eu's 1994 campaign for reelection as Secretary of State in California, and Don Knabe's 1996 campaign for County Supervisor in Los Angeles. The conduits, including Hsia, were reimbursed with money from the Temple.
The indictment alleges that this system of conduit payments defrauded both the FEC and the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). As outlined in the indictment, the FEC was defrauded because, among other things, it was given false information about the source of contributions to various candidates.
Federal election laws also prohibit any person from making a contribution in the name of another person (2 U.S.C. § 441f) and require political committees to identify to the FEC every person making a contribution in excess of $200. Treasurers of political committees must file periodic reports of receipts and disbursements with the FEC (2 U.S.C. § 434). The FEC relies on these reports in enforcing the campaign financing laws and when making available to the public information about the amounts and sources of political contributions to federal candidates and their political committees.
The INS was allegedly defrauded because, among other things, concealment of the true source of the funds (in those cases where the source was a non-U.S. citizen associated with the Temple) was designed to ensure that the INS would permit the conduit to enter or remain in the United States.
Hsia is also charged with five counts of causing the submission of false statements to the FEC. These counts stem from the filing of false reports to the FEC by various political committees. According to the indictment, certain information contained in the reports was based on misinformation provided by Hsia. The misinformation was the naming of conduits rather than the Temple as the source of various contributions.
Hsia is expected to surrender tomorrow for arraignment in the District of Columbia. The case will be prosecuted by the Campaign
Financing Task Force.
All charges made by the government are merely accusations, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.