FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECRM
MONDAY, MARCH 8, 1999(202) 616-2777
WWW.USDOJ.GOV TDD(202) 514-1888
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department's Campaign Financing Task Force today filed a criminal information againstYogesh Gandhi, a contributor to the Democratic National Committee, charging him with tax evasion, mail and wire fraud, failing to file an income tax return and perjury.
Gandhi, 49, founder of the Gandhi Memorial International Foundation in Los Angeles, previously had been indicted by the Task Force in August 1998. At that time, he was charged with one count of mail fraud based on two false applications that he filed seeking credit cards.
Today's criminal information, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, incorporates the earlier charge as well as a second mail fraud count, five counts of wire fraud, two counts of tax evasion, two counts of failing to file an income tax return, and one count of perjury.
According to the information, Gandhi solicited $12,500 for his Foundation from Cirrus Logic, Inc., a California manufacturer of computer chips. It alleges that he represented to Cirrus Logic that the money would be used to fund a youth nonviolence education program in the California counties of Contra Costa, Alameda and Santa Clara. Instead, according to the information, the money was used by Gandhi to repay a personal business debt.
The five mail fraud counts stem from a business arrangement between Gandhi and Yoshio Tanaka, a Japanese businessman. According to the Information, Tanaka had arranged for Gandhi to promote the stature of Hogen Fukunaga, a Japanese spiritual leader. Under the terms of the agreement, Tanaka was to reimburse Gandhi for various business expenses associated with the promotion. The information alleges that Gandhi sent false and fraudulent claims to Tanaka in order to obtain reimbursement for inflated expenses.
The tax charges also are based on the business relationship with Tanaka. As set forth in the information, Gandhi evaded income tax due on the funds sent by Tanaka. This was accomplished in part by using straw purchasers to conceal Gandhi's ownership of real estate, depositing funds in the bank accounts of others, and conducting business transactions in cash. According to the information, Gandhi evaded paying income taxes in both 1995 and 1996.
The perjury charge is based on Gandhi's having stated under oath during a 1996 interview with the Immigration and Naturalization Service that he had never failed to file a federal income tax. The interview was designed to determine Gandhi's eligibility to be a citizen. Gandhi became a naturalized citizen in 1996.
Gandhi is one of fifteen persons charged by the Task Force, which was established to investigate allegations of campaign financing abuses in the 1996 election cycle. Juan C. Ortiz, the Chief Financial Officer of Future Tech International, Inc., pleaded guilty to acting as a conduit for an illegal campaign contribution and participating in the reimbursement of eight other conduit contributions. On November 24, 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, Franklin Haney was indicted on more than 40 counts of conspiring with another to defraud the United States by impairing and impeding the FEC and conspiring to violate specific provisions of federal election law. On September 30, Democratic fund-raiser Mark B. Jimenez was indicted on 17 counts of organizing, and making and concealing illegal conduit contributions to a number of Democratic campaigns.
On July 13, DNC fund-raiser Pauline Kanchanalak and her business associate Duangnet "Georgie" Kronenberg were charged with conspiring to impair and impede the FEC, and causing the submission of false statements to the FEC. Maria Hsia was indicted in Los Angeles on July 7, on four tax counts. The case is now scheduled for trial on May 4, 1999. On February 18, Hsia was also indicted in D.C. on charges of conspiring to defraud the United States and causing false statements to be submitted to the FEC. Several counts have since been dismissed by the District Court, and the case will be argued before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on March 15.
Last March, Johnny Chung pleaded guilty to bank fraud, tax evasion and two misdemeanor counts of conspiring to violate election law. He was later sentenced to probation. On January 29, 1998, Charlie Trie and Antonio Pan were indicted on 15 charges, including obstruction of justice and various crimes relating to campaign financing. Trials in the Hsia and Trie cases have been postponed pending an appeal of the dismissal of some of the counts in the indictments. 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 after their cases were referred from Independent Counsel Daniel Pearson.
The charges made by the government are merely accusations. All criminal defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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