Cincinnati political consultant sentenced to 2 years in prison for embezzling $1.4M from Congressional campaign
CINCINNATI – A political and media consultant was sentenced in U.S. District Court today to 24 months in prison for federal crimes related to the embezzlement of more than $1.4 million from a United States Congressional campaign.
James R. Schwartz II, 42, of Cincinnati, pleaded guilty in March 2021 to wire fraud and falsification of records.
According to court documents, from approximately 2011 through 2019, Schwartz worked as a consultant on behalf of a Congressional campaign through his companies Fountain Square Group LLC and Prime Media LLC. Schwartz also served as the de facto treasurer for the campaign.
Schwartz embezzled funds from the Congressional campaign by writing checks to himself and his companies from the campaign that were for more money than he and his companies had actually earned.
“Simply put, when he ran low on money, Schwartz cut himself a check from campaign funds that he did not earn,” U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker said. “For close to 10 years, Schwartz fraudulently lined his own pockets at the expense of the entity he was hired to help further.”
Schwartz concealed the embezzled funds by misrepresenting the amounts paid to him and his companies in reports to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Schwartz created and submitted false receipt and disbursement records to an FEC audit team; Schwartz fabricated bank statements; he falsified e-donation reports and created a fake email from an e-donation vendor to conceal the fake e-donation reports; and he began writing fake checks to match the fictitious bank statements, which were prepared to match the prior false filings with the FEC.
During the FEC audit in summer 2019, Schwartz reported his criminal activity to the United States Attorney’s Office and cooperated with FBI agents.
Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and J. William Rivers, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, announced the sentence imposed today by U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black. Assistant United States Attorney Matthew C. Singer is representing the United States in this case.
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