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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania

Friday, April 29, 2016

Pennsylvania Lobbyist Charged With Wire Fraud

HARRISBURG - The United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that a lobbyist has been charged with wire fraud.

According to the United States Attorney’s Office, John H. Estey, age 53, of Ardmore, was charged with wire fraud in a Criminal Information filed in U.S. District Court in Harrisburg.

The Information charges that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted an undercover investigation of lobbying in the Pennsylvania General Assembly.  In that investigation, the FBI created an undercover business and hired Estey as a lobbyist to influence passage of certain legislation beneficial to the undercover business.  In 2011, as a part of that investigation, Estey agreed to secretly pay $20,000 in campaign contributions to members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly in connection with this legislation. When he was paid funds, Estey only passed through $7,000 in campaign contributions while secretly keeping $13,000. 

The government also filed a plea agreement with Mr. Estey which is subject to approval of the court. A date for his initial appearance has not been set.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis C. Pfannenschmidt was designated United States Attorney for this case because United States Attorney Peter J. Smith recused himself.  

The case was investigated by the FBI, the Pennsylvania State Police, and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Michael A. Consiglio, Christy Fawcett, and William S. Houser.

Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.

A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

In this case, the maximum penalty under the federal statute is 20 years’ imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a $250,000 fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.

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Public Corruption
Updated April 29, 2016