A one-time congressional candidate is now facing federal charges stemming from his 2018 campaign in Massachusetts.
Although Democratic Abhijit Das did not make it to the U.S. House of Representatives, federal prosecutors believe he did translate his congressional bid into a lucrative crime.
Details from the indictment
If convicted of the campaign finance violations listed in his recent indictment, Das could end up behind bars and on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
According to the Daily Caller, the indictment describes an apparent pair of illegal schemes the candidate concocted. First, he allegedly solicited loans from friends above the legal limit and passed it off as his own. The second allegation contends that he used campaign funds to cover private and unrelated expenses.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts released a statement listing the charges against Das as accepting excessive campaign contributions, conduit contributions, conversion of campaign funds, engaging in a scheme to falsify, conceal, and cover up material facts, and making false statements.
A conviction on any of those counts could result in five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000.
Local news reports indicate the trouble for Das began when he mounted his ambitious campaign to represent the state’s 3rd congressional district in the 2018 election. He fell far short, however, finishing seventh in the primary race with only 1,492 votes.
A campaign gone wrong
During the campaign, he billed himself as an “independent” Democrat with real-world experience as a former attorney and hotel developer. At some point, however, prosecutors say he implemented a felonious scheme to violate campaign finance laws.
In order to overcome a “fundraising deficit” in 2017, the indictment alleges that Das told a friend he would need to do some “engineering” to reach his goal of $450,000 by the end of the year.
From there, he allegedly solicited personal loans from several friends that he told a staffer he would “aggregate” into “one batch” to be contributed to the campaign as if it had come from his own personal resources.
In total, he is accused of taking in $125,000 from three individuals and structuring the funds as personal loans to family members to avoid federal requirements and contribution limits.
During the following months, Das allegedly withdrew $314,500 in campaign funds, using the majority for personal expenses such as hotel debt, and instructed bank tellers to structure the withdrawals as separate transactions to conceal his improper use of the funds. Furthermore, he is facing charges related to filing false FEC reports, including a June 2018 document stating his campaign had $440,000 cash on hand when prosecutors say there was just $5,000 in the account.