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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

Monday, September 11, 2017

East Bay Developer Arraigned On Campaign Finance Fraud Charges

Indictment Alleges Use of Straw Donors To Fund Election Campaign

OAKLAND – James Tong, a prominent East Bay developer, was arraigned today on an indictment alleging that he made illegal campaign finance donations, announced United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Federal Bureau of Investigation, Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. 

According to the indictment, Tong, 72, of Pleasanton, Calif., used “conduit contributors,” or straw donors, to make donations from his own funds to a political campaign in excess of the amounts allowed by one individual.  The indictment alleges that in both 2012 and 2013, Tong made over $10,000 of these “straw” donations to the authorized political committee supporting the campaign of a candidate for federal elected office.  Neither the committee nor the candidate are named in the indictment.

Court filings confirm that Tong is the same individual who was convicted last year of violating the Endangered Species Act, in United States v. James Tong, 15-512-JST.  

Tong was arraigned and made his initial appearance in federal court in Oakland before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kandis A. Westmore.  He was released on his own recognizance and required to surrender his passport.   Tong’s next scheduled appearance is at 9:30 on September 29, 2017, before the Honorable Jon S. Tigar, U.S. District Judge.          

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum sentence on each of the counts alleged of 2 years, and a fine of $50,000 or 1000% of the amount involved in the violation, whichever is greater.  There is also a minimum mandatory fine of at least 300% of the amount involved in the violation.  However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.  

The case is being prosecuted by the Special Prosecution and National Security Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and is the result of a year-long investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. 

Public Corruption
Updated September 28, 2017