California Real Estate Developer Convicted Of Making Conduit Contributions In Two U.S. Congressional Campaigns

Oakland, CA—An Oakland area real estate developer James Tong was found guilty for funneling tens of thousands of dollars through straw donors into two consecutive congressional campaigns for a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Tong, 74, of Fremont, California, was found guilty of two counts of making contributions to a federal campaign in the name of other individuals.  According to the evidence presented at trial, in 2012 and 2013 Tong used two primary straw donors as recruiters for his scheme.  Tong gave thousands of dollars in cash to his chosen middlemen and instructed them to recruit straw donors to write checks to a candidate who was running for office in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Tong induced the individuals to distribute cash in the community to be donated to the initial and reelection campaigns of the candidate.  

The network of straw donors included dozens of conduits who agreed to write checks in exchange for a commensurate amount of cash sourced from Tong.  Tong provided envelopes of cash to the two intermediaries and directed them to reimburse individuals for their contributions.  Tong also directed an intermediary to conceal the scheme by instructing the conduits not to deposit the cash and later directed the intermediary to withhold information from the FBI after he was interviewed.  Evidence at trial demonstrated that members of the campaign, including the candidate, were unaware of the defendant’s illegal contribution scheme.

On August 31, 2017, a federal grand jury indicted Tong charging him with two counts of making and causing campaign contributions in the name of another, in violation of 52 U.S.C. §§ 30122 and 30109(d)(1)(D).  The jury found Tong guilty of both counts.

Tong faces a maximum statutory penalty of two years in prison and 1000% of the amount involved in the violation for each count.  And he will be sentenced on December 13.