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Press Release

Philadelphia Woman Pleads Guilty to Charges of Causing False Statements to The Federal Election Commission

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Carolyn Cavaness, age 34, of Ardmore, Pennsylvania, pled guilty to a criminal information unsealed today charging her with causing false statements to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in connection with a 2012 congressional primary election. Acting U.S. Attorney Louis D. Lappen for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division made the announcement.

According to the plea agreement, Cavaness engaged in a falsification scheme involving payments to a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, identified in the information as Candidate B. According to the plea agreement, those payments came from Candidate B’s political opponent, identified in the information as Candidate A, for the purpose of removing Candidate B from the 2012 Democratic race for Pennsylvania’s First Congressional District. Cavaness was a member of Candidate B’s campaign staff.

Pursuant to the plea agreement, the defendant admitted that in or about February 2012, Candidate B withdrew from the primary election pursuant to an agreement with his opponent, Candidate A, who promised to pay Candidate B $90,000 from his campaign funds to be used to repay Candidate B’s campaign debts. Cavaness admitted that she was aware that under the applicable law, a contribution from one authorized campaign to another could not exceed $2,000 for the primary election, and that the FEC required campaigns to file periodic reports itemizing the campaign’s contributions and expenditures during the reporting period. However, in order to conceal the fact that Candidate A’s campaign committee paid Candidate B’s campaign debts, according to the plea agreement, Candidate B instructed Cavaness to create a company whose sole purpose would be to receive the funds from Candidate A’s political campaign and repay Candidate B’s campaign debts. Admissions in the plea agreements revealed that Cavaness did so, and that the payments were then routed through two political consultants, who created false invoices to generate a paper trail intended to justify the payments from Candidate A’s campaign committee.

According to the plea agreement, Cavaness used the money from Candidate A’s campaign committee to repay Candidate B’s campaign debts and for personal expenses, but failed to disclose this information to the FEC. Instead, according to the plea agreement, Cavaness knowingly and intentionally caused Candidate B’s campaign committee to file false reports with the FEC which did not disclose or reference the funds received from Candidate A’s campaign committee, did not mention the companies of the political consultants through whom the payments were routed, and falsely listed the same debts owed by Candidate B’s campaign that had been disclosed on earlier reports, despite the fact that those debts had been repaid using funds paid to Candidate B by Candidate A’s campaign committee.

The case is being investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Gibson and Trial Attorney Jonathan Kravis of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.

Updated July 25, 2017

Public Corruption