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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Two Men Indicted for Conspiring to Cause False Statements to the Federal Election Commission

A federal grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania returned an indictment today charging two Philadelphia-area political consultants with a scheme to use a political candidate’s campaign funds to make illegal contributions to his opponent’s campaign to secure the opponent’s agreement to drop out of a 2012 congressional primary race. 


Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Louis D. Lappen for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania made the announcement.


According to the indictment, Donald “D.A.” Jones, 62, of Willingboro, New Jersey, and Kenneth Smukler, 57, of Villanova, Pennsylvania, were charged with conspiracy, causing unlawful campaign contributions and causing the filing of false reports to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), and Jones was charged with making false statements to the FBI, in connection with a falsification scheme involving unlawful contributions to the campaign of former Municipal Court Judge Jimmie Moore, a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for Member of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2012 Democratic race for Pennsylvania’s First Congressional District.  According to the indictment, those payments came from the campaign committee of Moore’s opponent for the purpose of removing Moore from the race.  Moore pleaded guilty to the charge of causing false statements to the FEC in connection with this matter on Oct. 2.


As alleged in the indictment, in or about February 2012, Moore withdrew from the primary election pursuant to an agreement with his opponent, who promised $90,000 in campaign funds to be used to repay Moore’s campaign debts.  Under the applicable law, a contribution from one authorized campaign to another could not exceed $2,000 for the primary election.  Therefore, the $90,000 payment from Moore’s opponent’s campaign to pay Moore’s campaign debts constituted an unlawful campaign contribution. 


According to the indictment, the FEC requires campaigns to file periodic reports itemizing the campaign’s contributions and expenditures during the reporting period.  However, in order to conceal the unlawful contribution and its source, Moore instructed his campaign manager, Carolyn Cavaness, to create a company whose sole purpose would be to receive the funds from his opponent’s political campaign and repay Moore’s campaign debts.  As described in the indictment, those payments were routed through Voter Link Data Systems (Voter Link) and D. Jones & Associates, political consulting companies run by Smukler and Jones.


According to the indictment, the defendants used false invoices to generate a paper trail intended to justify the payments from Moore’s opponent’s campaign committee, and Cavaness, acting at Moore’s direction, used a portion of the money from the opponent’s campaign committee to repay Moore’s campaign debts, including debts to Moore and Cavaness themselves.  Cavaness pleaded guilty to the charge of causing false statements to the FEC in connection with this matter on July 25.


According to the indictment, to further conceal the scheme, the defendants willfully caused Moore’s campaign committee to file false reports with the FEC that did not disclose or reference the funds received from his opponent’s campaign committee; did not mention Voter Link or D. Jones & Associates, the companies through which the payments were routed; and falsely listed the same debts owed by Moore’s campaign that had been disclosed on earlier reports, despite the fact that those debts had been repaid using funds from Moore’s opponent’s campaign committee.  Likewise, the defendants willfully caused the opponent’s campaign committee to file false reports with the FEC that did not mention the use of campaign funds to repay Moore’s campaign debts.  Finally, the indictment alleges that Jones made material false statements to FBI agents investigating this matter, telling them that Cavaness had performed work in exchange for the opponent’s campaign funds that were routed through D. Jones & Associates, when in fact Cavaness never performed any such work.


An indictment is not a finding of guilt.  It merely alleges that crimes have been committed.  A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.


The FBI conducted the investigation, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Gibson Eric Gibson of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Trial Attorney Jonathan Kravis of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section are prosecuting the case.

Public Corruption
Press Release Number: 
Updated November 18, 2019