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La Palma Resident Who Violated Campaign Laws Sentenced to One Year and Fined $100,000

Babulal Bera, photo courtesy Sac Bee.

Babulal Bera, photo courtesy Sac Bee.

AP Report

Babulal Bera, a resident of La Palma, pleaded guilty in May to making excessive campaign contributions and making contributions in someone else’s name.

The father of a California congressman was sentenced Thursday to a year and a day in federal prison after prosecutors said he illegally funneled nearly $270,000 in contributions to his son’s campaigns.

A federal judge also fined Bera $100,000 for violating federal election laws, according to the U. S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento.

Democratic U. S. Rep. Ami Bera, D-Folsom, was not charged and has denied knowing about his father’s activities. Prosecutors said they have found no evidence he was involved.

Bera is running for a third term against Republican Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones.

He acknowledged he arranged for friends, relatives and acquaintances to contribute more than $225,000 to his son’s failed 2010 campaign for a House seat and then illegally reimbursing the donors.

He did it again with more than $43,000 for his son’s successful 2012 campaign, when Ami Bera defeated Republican Rep. Dan Lungren on the second try.

“This is one of the most difficult moments my family has ever experienced, ” Ami Bera said in a statement. “Of course I’m absolutely devastated and heartbroken for how today’s decision will impact our entire family. But my father’s accepted what he did was wrong, he’s taken responsibility, and I love him more than words can express. ”

Investigators found more than 130 improper campaign contributions involving about 90 contributors, according to a plea agreement in the case. Campaign officials said they reimbursed the U. S. Treasury for the amount of the illegal donations.

Prosecutors sought the one-year prison term, while probation officers and defense attorneys said the 83-year-old Bera should be spared incarceration because of his age, poor health and because his 82-year-old wife could not live without him.

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