HOUSTON - A Houston businessman has
pleaded guilty to making illegal political contributions in the names of others
to campaign committees for U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in 2017,
announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick along with Assistant Attorney General
Brian Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Dannenbaum, 80, pleaded guilty today to violating the Federal
Election Campaign Act.
On Nov. 22, Dannenbaum Engineering
Corporation (DEC) and its parent company, Engineering Holding Corporation,
entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA). They also agreed to pay a
$1.6 million criminal fine for its involvement in a multi-year conduit
contribution scheme. Dannenbaum is DEC’s former CEO.
As part of the plea, Dannenbaum admitted that
from 2015 through 2017, he and DEC made $323,300 in illegal conduit
contributions through various employees and their family members to federal
candidates and their committees. DEC corporate funds were used to advance or
reimburse employee monies for these contributions. Dannenbaum did not reveal to
any of the federal candidates that the corporation was the true source of the
contributions. The object of the scheme was for DEC, Dannenbaum and a former
employee to gain access to and potentially influence various candidates for
federal office, including candidates for the presidency as well as the Senate
and House of Representatives.
U.S. District Judge Sim Lake of the Southern
District of Texas accepted the plea and set sentencing for March 5, 2020. At
that time, Dannenbaum faces up to two years in federal prison.
The FBI conducted the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Carolyn Ferko and John Pearson are prosecuting the
case along with Trial Attorney Jessica C. Harvey of the Criminal Division’s
Public Integrity Section.