Three Individuals Charged with $3.5 Million Scheme to Collect Contributions for Fraudulent Political Action Committees
(STL.News) Two California men and one Texas man have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Austin, Texas, for their alleged involvement a scheme to operate two fraudulent political action committees (PACs) during the 2016 federal election cycle. The indictment was unsealed yesterday after being returned on Nov. 2.
As alleged in the indictment, Matthew Nelson Tunstall, 34, of Los Angeles, California; Robert Reyes, Jr., 38, of Hollister, California; and Kyle George Davies, 29, of Austin, Texas, solicited contributions to Liberty Action Group PAC and Progressive Priorities PAC under the guise that the PACs were affiliated with or meaningfully supporting specified candidates for public office. Between January 2016 and April 2017, the defendants obtained approximately $3.5 million from unwitting donors based on false and misleading representations and used those funds to enrich themselves and to pay for additional fraudulent advertisements soliciting donations. Tunstall and Reyes are also alleged to have laundered more than $350,000 in illegal proceeds from the scheme through a third-party vendor to conceal the use of those funds for their own benefit.
Tunstall and Reyes are both charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to make a false statement to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), multiple counts of wire fraud, and multiple counts of money laundering. Davies is charged with conspiracy commit wire and to make a false statement to the FEC, and multiple counts of wire fraud.
Tunstall made his initial appearance yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California; Reyes and Davies will make their initial appearances today in the U.S. District Courts for the Northern District of California and the Western District of Texas, respectively. If convicted of all counts, Tunstall and Reyes both face a maximum total penalty of 125 years in prison. If convicted of all counts, Davies faces a maximum total penalty of 65 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 Christopher Combs of the FBI’s San Antonio Field Office made the announcement.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s San Antonio Division, Austin Resident Agency. Trial Attorneys Rebecca M. Schuman and Michael N. Lang of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.