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Press Release

Bergen County, New Jersey, Man Admits Helping Disguise Foreign Contributions During 2012 Presidential Election

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – A Bergen County, New Jersey, man today admitted helping funnel $80,000 in campaign contributions from a foreign source to the joint fundraising committee of the President of the United States during the 2012 presidential election, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman of the District of New Jersey announced.

Bilal Shehu, 48, of Paramus, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court to an information charging him with knowingly and willfully making foreign contributions and donations in connection with the 2012 presidential election and to a fundraising and political campaign committee of the president, aggregating $25,000 or more during a calendar year.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

In September 2012, Shehu, a U.S. citizen living in New Jersey, received approximately $80,000 from a foreign source and provided it to a joint fundraising committee – including the authorized campaign committee of the president – to disguise the true origin of the money and so that a foreign national could attend a campaign event on Oct. 8, 2012, in San Francisco. Federal law prohibits foreign nationals from making contributions to federal candidates or fundraising committees and, in order to attend the event, a foreign national needed to be accompanied by a U.S. citizen. Shehu admitted that he received an $80,000 wire transfer into his New Jersey-based bank account from a foreign bank account in late September 2012, knowing that he was to provide it to the joint fundraising committee. In early October 2012, Shehu flew to San Francisco and attempted to gain entry into the San Francisco fundraising event with the foreign national, who was denied entry but was allowed to be photographed with the President. 

No one on the joint fundraising committee has been accused of any wrongdoing and the committee has fully cooperated in the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The charge to which Shehu pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of five years and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 5, 2016. 

The FBI investigated the case. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. McCarren of the District of New Jersey’s Special Prosecutions Division Trial Attorneys Charles Walsh and Peter Halpern of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.

Defense counsel: Alan M. Abramson Esq., New York

Updated June 29, 2016

Public Corruption
Press Release Number: 16-190