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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 23, 2020

Man Pleads Guilty to Making Illegal Campaign Contributions

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Maryland political consultant pleaded guilty today to conspiring to funnel more than $15,000 through straw donors into a campaign for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

According to court documents, Charles O’Neil, 33, was the Vice President of Strategic Campaign Group, Inc., a political consulting company located in Arlington from January to October 2015.

O’Neil and his co-conspirators, including Kelley Rogers, Scott Mackenzie, and another co-conspirator, facilitated unlawful campaign contributions from a company, through eleven straw donors, to a campaign. The campaign was for a candidate running for an Indiana seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The co-conspirator was the vice president and general counsel of a company; a gaming corporation based in Indianapolis, IN. The co-conspirator transferred funds from their company to bank accounts that were associated with Strategic Campaign Group, Inc. O’Neil and his co-conspirators used more than $15,000 of the transferred funds to reimburse straw donors who, at the direction of O’Neil, Rogers, and other conspirators, contributed more than $15,000 to the campaign.

O’Neil and his co-conspirators made these transfers to evade the restrictions of corporate contributions to campaigns, to evade the limits placed on money that individuals could contribution to a campaign, and to disguise the fact that the gaming corporation was the true source of the funds.

O’Neil pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to make conduit contributions and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 8. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Timothy M. Dunham, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office’s Criminal Division, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly R. Pedersen and Trial Attorneys Bill Gullotta and John Taddei of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section (PIN) are prosecuting the case.

Former PIN attorney Molly Gaston provided significant assistance in the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:20-cr-010.

Topic(s): 
Public Corruption
Contact: 
Joshua Stueve Director of Public Affairs joshua.stueve@usdoj.gov
Updated January 23, 2020