NYC comptroller's ex-campaign treasurer pleads not guilty

Reuters News
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Posted: May 01, 2012 3:44 PM
NYC comptroller's ex-campaign treasurer pleads not guilty

By Joan Gralla

(Reuters) - The 25-year-old former campaign treasurer for New York City Comptroller John Liu, and one of his fundraisers, both pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to fraud charges for violating contribution limits.

Jia Hou, known as Jenny, the former campaign treasurer, and Xing Wu Pan, known as Oliver, a fundraiser, are both free on bail, according to the Justice Department. U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan is trying the case. The next court date is July 10.

Lawyers for Hou, who faces as much as 65 years in prison if convicted, and Pan did not immediately respond to calls and emails requesting comment.

A spokesman for the comptroller's campaign for New York City mayor was also not immediately available to comment.

Liu was the first Asian-American to be elected New York City comptroller. His plans to run for mayor in 2013 have been damaged by a federal probe of his campaign fundraising.

As comptroller, Liu serves as New York City's fiscal watchdog, analyzing and auditing the city's finances. He also helps run the city's $110 billion pension fund.

In addition to previous charges, Hou was indicted on April 27 for making a false statement to federal officials.

She had been arrested in February and charged with obstruction of justice and fraud for using "straw donors" to funnel large, illegal contributions to Liu's mayoral campaign.

Straw donors make a campaign contribution in their own names, but with funds provided by someone else - or they are reimbursed for the donation later.

Prosecutors say the scheme, which Hou and Pan participated in, illegally increased the amount of campaign matching funds for which Liu qualified.

Pan was indicted in February on federal conspiracy and wire fraud charges. Pan illegally raised $16,000 for a candidate in a 2013 citywide race, according to the U.S. attorney.

(Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Jan Paschal)