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Former Chabot campaign consultant pleads guilty to federal fraud charges

Feds: Consultant embezzled $1.4M from campaign
Aftab Pureval and Rep. Steve Chabot clash onstage in WCPO-hosted debate
Posted at 1:02 PM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 13:07:52-04

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

An April 27 filing against 41-year-old James R. Schwartz II detailed an attempt to embezzle from “Congressional Campaign A" between 2011 and 2019.

According to court documents, Schwartz worked as a consultant for the campaign and was its "de facto treasurer" through his companies Fountain Square Group, LLC and Prime Media, LLC.

A plea document entered Friday 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 Federal Election Commission sent a letter to Schwartz regarding an amended campaign finance report showing a $123,625 increase in receipts that had not been disclosed on the original report. Fountain Square Group closed in 2019 amid the investigation.

Schwartz allegedly concealed the funds by misrepresenting the amounts paid to him and his companies in reports to the FEC through false bank statements and other documents, U.S. attorneys said.

In their announcement Friday, U.S. attorneys wrote that wire fraud and falsifying records in a federal investigation are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew C. Singer is prosecuting the case.

WCPO has reached out to Chabot's campaign and the attorney representing Schwartz for more information.