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Monday, April 13, 2015

Former Campaign Treasurer Sentenced for Tax Evasion and Filing False Campaign Reports Related to Diverting Money from Campaign's Bank Account

Defendant Worked on Unsuccessful Campaign of Washington, D.C., Council Candidate

A 33-year-old Washington, D.C., man was sentenced today to serve 16 months in prison for evading income taxes and violating campaign finance laws while working as the treasurer and custodian of records for a District of Columbia political campaign.

The sentence was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Vincent H. Cohen Jr. of the District of Columbia, Acting Assistant Attorney General Caroline D. Ciraolo of the Justice Department’s Tax Division, Chief Cathy L. Lanier of the Metropolitan Police Department and Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Kelly of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) Washington, D.C., Field Office.

Hakim J. Sutton pleaded guilty on Oct. 23, 2014, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to one count of income tax evasion, a federal offense, and one count of knowingly filing a false and misleading campaign finance report, a violation of District of Columbia law.  He was sentenced by the Honorable U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon.  Under the plea agreement, Sutton is required to pay full restitution of $18,231 in taxes and interest to the IRS.  Sutton was also ordered to three years of supervised release following his 16 month prison sentence.

According to a statement of offense, signed by the defendant as well as the government, 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 Michael A. Brown, a candidate seeking re-election to an at-large seat on the Council of the District of Columbia.  Brown ultimately lost in the November 2012 election.

Between July 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, Sutton wrote 36 checks payable to himself.

According to the statement of offense, some, but not all, of the money that Sutton diverted was compensation for Sutton’s work on the campaign.  However, Sutton failed to file income tax returns for calendar years 2011 and 2012.  He owes a total of $17,180 in federal income taxes for those years, along with an additional $1,051 in interest.

Sutton also omitted references to the checks that he had written to himself in a series of six reports he filed in 2011 and 2012 with the District of Columbia Office of Campaign Finance.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Ciraolo and Acting U.S. Attorney Cohen commended the Metropolitan Police Department and the special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, who investigated the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney David A. Last and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Seeley of the District of Columbia and Trial Attorney Kenneth C. Vert of the Tax Division, who prosecuted the case.  Ciraolo and Cohen thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Saler of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, Legal Assistant Angela Lawrence, Paralegal Specialist Tasha Harris, former Paralegal Specialist Nicole Wattelet and Criminal Investigator John Marsh, all of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, for their assistance.

Public Corruption
Press Release Number: 
Updated May 18, 2016