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Feds: Former consultant embezzled $1.4M from Chabot Congressional campaign

Aftab Pureval and Rep. Steve Chabot clash onstage in WCPO-hosted debate
Posted at 2:17 PM, Apr 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-27 14:22:14-04

CINCINNATI — A political consultant and longtime campaign aide to Rep. Steve Chabot faces federal wire fraud and falsification of records charges as prosecutors say he embezzled more than $1.4 million from Chabot's Congressional campaign.

A Tuesday filing against 41-year-old James R. Schwartz II, of Cincinnati, detailed a years-long attempt to embezzle from “Congressional Campaign A."

According to court documents, Schwartz worked as a consultant for the campaign through his companies Fountain Square Group, LLC and Prime Media, LLC, from approximately 2011-2019. Fountain Square Group closed in 2019 during the investigation.

FROM 2019: Closure of political firm as feds investigate missing money to have 'no impact' on local GOP races

Schwartz served as the “de facto treasurer” for the campaign, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. Court documents said Schwartz wrote multiple checks to himself and his companies from the campaign that were for more money than he and his companies actually earned. In 2019, the FEC sent a letter to Schwartz, asking why an amended campaign finance report showed a $123,625 increase in receipts that had not been disclosed on the original report.

Schwartz allegedly concealed the funds by misrepresenting the amounts paid to him and his companies in reports to the FEC through fabricated bank statements and other documents.

Wire fraud and falsifying records in a federal investigation are crimes punishable by up to 20 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

"Congressman Chabot and his campaign thank the prosecutors and members of law enforcement who worked on this case for their dedication to delivering justice,” said Chabot for Congress attorney Megan Sowards Newton in a statement Tuesday. “The campaign was deeply disappointed to learn the scale of Mr. Schwartz’s crimes and is grateful to all the officials involved for bringing this matter to its appropriate resolution.”

A plea document was also filed in federal court Tuesday, which will be considered at a future hearing.

"Jamie voluntarily turned himself into federal authorities some time ago, and he has fully cooperated with the investigation. He accepts responsibility for his actions and is extremely remorseful," said Schwartz's attorney, Kevin Tierney.