California man pleaded guilty yesterday in the Western District of
Texas to conspiracy to solicit millions of dollars in contributions to
two political action committees based on false and misleading
representations that the funds would be used to support presidential
candidates during and after the 2016 election cycle.
According to court documents, from 2016 through at least April 2017,
Robert Reyes, Jr., 40, of Hollister, along with others, operated two
political action committees—Liberty Action Group PAC and Progressive
Priorities PAC—which solicited contributions from the public via
robocalls and television, radio, and internet advertisements. The two
PACs represented that the contributions would be used to support dueling
presidential nominees of the two major political parties, respectively.
Instead, Reyes and his co-conspirators used the funds to enrich
themselves and to fund additional fraudulent solicitations.
Specifically, Reyes admitted that the two PACs raised approximately $3.5
million in contributions during the 2016 election cycle and subsequent
months, of which Reyes received approximately $714,000. Of the
approximately $3.5 million raised, the two PACs contributed
approximately $19 to legitimate political causes.
Additionally, to conceal the origin and nature of the proceeds of the
fraudulent scheme, Reyes and others instructed a third-party vendor to
withdraw approximately $353,000 from the two PACs in excess of the
payments for services rendered, then deposit the excess payments into
accounts held by shell companies that they controlled. Reyes admitted to
operating additional fraudulent PACs beyond the 2016 election cycle,
Support American Leaders and Campaign to Support the President, from
which he received approximately $95,000 generated from false and
misleading solicitations to donors.
As part of his plea, Reyes agreed to forfeit $809,920.40 that he
received for his participation in the scam-PACs during the scheme.
Reyes pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud
and to cause false statements to the Federal Election Commission and one
count of money laundering. Sentencing will be scheduled at a later
date. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal
district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the
U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice
Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Oliver E.
Rich of the FBI’s San Antonio Field Office made the announcement.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s San Antonio Division, Austin White Collar Crime Task Force.
Trial Attorneys Michael N. Lang and Celia Choy of the Criminal
Division’s Public Integrity Section are prosecuting the case. Former PIN
Trial Attorney Rebecca Schuman also contributed significantly to the