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Feds: Virginia Man Pleads Guilty To Embezzling $1 Million From PACs, Including McConnell's

20150810_143902
Jim McNair
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This story has been updated.

A Virginia man pleaded guilty Monday to defrauding more than a dozen conservative political action committees, including one from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, federal attorneys said.

Samuel K. Pate Jr. was accused of embezzling more than $1 million from the committees, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Louisville said on Monday.

Pate pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud.

The U.S. Attorney's Office worked with the FBI on the investigation, which began in 2014 and stemmed from a tip from a McConnell campaign donor who noticed that no “customary thank you note" was received, John E. Kuhn Jr. said during a press conference.

Kuhn said Pate committed straightforward fraud, not political corruption.

“However, this fraud disrupted the political process,” Kuhn noted.

Pate used the campaign donations to buy a vacation home and several cars, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Pate was accused of stealing more than $440,000 from the campaign of Louisiana Sen. David Vitter and about $118,000 from the McConnell Senate Committee.

The scheme started in 2008, according to the plea agreement.

The fraud charge usually carries a maximum penalty of as many as 60 years in prison, but attorneys said Pate would likely receive considerably less due to “a plea agreement.”

Investigators said they have recovered almost half of the stolen money.

Pate’s Virginia-based company, Stonewood Marking, was hired to handle bank deposits and record keeping for the groups. Kuhn said Pate instead stole donations from many of them.

“These were donations from donors from all over the United States that were trying to participate in the political process and his fraud disrupted and frustrated those efforts,” Kuhn said.

According to investigators, Pate spent $146,940 on purchasing a condo in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, $92,349 on various cars, $14,765 on a 2.02 carat diamond, $284,141 on an American Express credit card and $237,100 on an American Express savings account with money he diverted from the committees.

Besides Vitter and McConnell’s groups, Pate stole from Catholic Advocates, Christians in Defense of Israel, the House Conservative Fund and the Republic Majority Campaign, among others.

(Photo credit: James McNair)