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Ex-lobbyist seeks light sentence, cites charity
Question of the Day
“Mr. Dicks adheres to all the ethics rules,” he said.
Magliocchetti is to be sentenced Friday by U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III in Alexandria, Va., for violating federal election law.
He pleaded guilty in September and admitted in court to using straw donors — friends, lobbyists and family members — to funnel $386,250 in illegal contributions to members of Congress, including key members of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee who provided millions of dollars in earmarks for his lobbying clients.
Prosecutors, who called the case “one of the largest criminal schemes in U.S. history to violate federal campaign finance laws,” say Magliocchetti deserves the maximum sentence of 57 months in prison because of the “brazenness” and “scope” of his scheme to evade federal limits on individual donations and an outright ban on corporate contributions.
Magliocchetti’s attorneys are seeking home confinement, probation and a $10,000 fine, saying he is physically ill and a more lenient sentence would be more in line with other election cases.
Magliocchetti, who became one of the top defense lobbyists on Capitol Hill with help from Murtha and others, practically adopted Johnstown, even though his homes were in suburban Virginia and Florida. Defense attorneys pointed out that Magliocchetti has family in western Pennsylvania. He grew up in Pittsburgh, about 60 miles from Johnstown.
The ties between Magliocchetti and Murtha go back to the 1980s, when Magliocchetti, a one-time congressional staffer, worked with Murtha on the Appropriations defense subcommittee. He built the PMA Group into one of the 10 top-grossing lobbying firms in Washington before it imploded after federal agents raided it and his home in November 2008.
The firm made more than $16.4 million in lobbying income in 2007, according to Senate records, and was the go-to lobbyist for contractors who wanted earmarks or tax dollars that members of Congress set aside in appropriations bills for specific pet projects.
Magliocchetti also gave $56,050 to the Girl Scouts of Talus Rock Council, which at the time was based in Johnstown. Murtha and his wife received the council’s annual Community Service Award, and for 28 years the congressman secured speakers for the council’s annual fundraising dinner — including Rep. Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, in 2005 — according to the Girl Scouts’ website.
For his part, Magliocchetti helped organize and raise funds for the council’s annual dinner. His friend Edward J. Sheehan Jr. wrote the court that the two of them helped raise more than $600,000 in net proceeds for the Girl Scouts, who previously raised $75,000 over the same number of years. He said that he also worked with Magliocchetti and his firm to raise money for the Challenge Program.
“Both of these programs grew more rapidly, and they were able to assist many more young people, because of Paul’s direct involvement,” wrote Mr. Sheehan. “And Paul never asked for anything in return.” Mr. Sheehan is president of Concurrent Technologies Corp., a Johnstown defense contractor, which was a PMA client and the beneficiary of numerous earmarks from Murtha.
Magliocchetti also gave $22,050 to the Women's Help Center, a nonprofit based in Johnstown that provides services to victims of domestic abuse and their children. In a letter to the court, Susan Shahade, executive director of the center, praised Magliocchetti’s support, saying he gave “freely and frequently of his personal time and resources.”
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