Former Liu associates sentenced for Fund-Raising Scheme

NEW YORK, NY (TIP): Two former associates of John C. Liu, the New York City comptroller, managed to avoid lengthy prison sentences on Thursday, October 10, for their roles in attempting to funnel money to Mr. Liu’s mayoral campaign through an illegal fundraising scheme, reported The New York Times. Although Jia Hou, a former Liu campaign treasurer, and Xing Wu Pan, a fund-raiser, each faced a maximum sentence of 20 years, it was widely expected that the actual sentence would be far less severe: Both defendants’ lawyers had asked that their clients avoid prison, and prosecutors had asked for no more than 30 months for Ms. Hou, and half that for Mr. Pan. But in a Manhattan courtroom filled with the defendants’ supporters, the judge, Richard J. Sullivan of Federal District Court, sentenced Ms. Hou to 10 months and Mr. Pan to four.

Afterward, Mr. Liu, who was not charged in the federal investigation into his campaign finances, which dated to 2009, sharply criticized the office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, for prosecuting Ms. Hou, 27, who goes by the name Jenny, and Mr. Pan, who is known as Oliver and is in his 40s. “For reasons I may never fully understand,” Mr. Liu said, “the U.S. attorney’s office set out to destroy me with what has been described as an extraordinarily intrusive and exhaustive investigation.” He added: “Failing to find that I had done anything wrong, they proceeded to set up a weak man and a wonderful young woman. Jenny Hou does not deserve this ordeal and injustice she has been put through.” Mr. Bharara’s office declined to comment on Mr.

Liu’s statement. Prosecutors had charged that Ms. Hou and Mr. Pan relied on so-called straw donors – people whose contributions are reimbursed by others – to raise money with the goal of obtaining city matching funds. Ms. Hou was acquitted of conspiracy but was convicted for her role in the straw-donor scheme. She was also found guilty of lying to federal agents and of obstruction of justice. Mr. Pan was found guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and of attempted wire fraud in relation to a straw-donor scheme. Mr. Liu was not in court Thursday. He commented, “I am very sad but even more angry at what has occurred,” he said. “The U.S. attorney’s office was wrong and should not be proud of its conduct.”

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