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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 19, 2019

California Man Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Defrauding Thousands Of Donors To Scam Political Action Committees

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that JOHN PIERRE DUPONT, a/k/a “John Gary Rinaldo,” was arrested this morning and charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for his role in a years-long, nationwide scheme to defraud thousands of donors who believed they were donating to political action committees and political campaigns.  The defendant is expected to be presented this afternoon in the District Court of Arizona.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged, John Pierre Dupont operated multiple fake political action committees and falsely claimed to be raising money to support more than a dozen campaigns.  Thousands of donors believed their hard-earned money was being used to support the causes described in solicitations, but in reality, the scam PACs had no operations beyond the fundraising itself, and no funds were used to support candidates.  My Office will continue to ensure that fraudulent fundraising does not pay – indeed, will result in criminal prosecution – by rooting out scam PACs wherever we find them.”

According to the Complaint[1] unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

From at least in or about 2015 up to and including the present, JOHN PIERRE DUPONT defrauded thousands of donors who believed they were donating to three political action committees established by DUPONT (the “Scam PACs”),[2] or to campaigns the Scam PACs falsely claimed to support.  DUPONT’s scheme resulted in more than $250,000 being donated through websites he controlled and operated, all of which was retained by DUPONT, both to enrich himself personally and to perpetuate the alleged crime.

The websites purported to be raising money in support of Democratic congressional and senate campaigns generally, as well as approximately 10 particular Senate candidates, a candidate for governor, and a candidate for president.  None of the money raised went either to those campaigns or to support those candidates whatsoever.  Another website operated by DUPONT purported to be raising money “to unite immigrant families” and provide services in connection with certain immigration policies.  In particular, the Foundation for Sanity in Politics PAC website claimed that donations would “go to help pay our volunteer attorneys’, doctors’, nurses’ and social workers’ costs and pay for transportation to unite immigrant families.”  In fact, that PAC had no volunteers, and dedicated no funds to paying for doctors, social workers, or any other professionals, advocacy, or political operations.

The scheme targeted victims across the country, raising funds on the basis of fraudulent representations that the donations would support the relevant causes, candidates, and campaigns.  Instead, virtually all of the money raised was paid to DUPONT or used to perpetuate the fraud through additional fundraising and overhead expenditures.  None of the money donated to the Scam PACs was spent on political contributions during the relevant time period, and DUPONT failed to report the donations, as required, in filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Donations collected by DUPONT during the relevant period totaled more than $250,000, none of which went to campaigns or support for any candidate or cause.

*                *                *

JOHN PIERRE DUPONT, 80, is charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory two years in prison consecutive to any other sentence imposed.

The statutory maximum and mandatory penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants would be determined by the judge.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the Special Agents of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

If you think you are a victim of the scheme alleged in this press release, please contact Wendy Olsen, Victim & Witness Services for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, at 866-874-8900.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Public Corruption Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alex Rossmiller and Ryan Finkel are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations.  The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint constitutes only allegations, and every fact described herein should be treated as an allegation.

[2] Businessmen for a Businessman President PAC, Foundation for Sanity in Politics PAC, and Democrats for Congress PAC.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
19-084
Updated March 19, 2019