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Former Liu Campaign Associates Found Guilty In Straw Donor Fraud Case

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TWC News: Former Liu Campaign Associates Found Guilty In Straw Donor Fraud Case
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Jenny Hou, City Comptroller John Liu's former campaign treasurer, and Oliver Pan, a former Liu campaign fundraiser, were found guilty in Manhattan Thursday in a case involving their organizing straw donor schemes.

The jury reached a verdict after a full day of deliberations in federal court in Lower Manhattan.

Prosecutors investigated Liu's campaign staff for over two years, and say Hou and Pan tried to bypass campaign finance laws that limit individual contributions to $4,950, by claiming that large individual donations were made by multiple donors.

Hou, a Queens resident who served Liu's campaign from 2010 until her arrest last year, was found guilty of attempted wire fraud, obstructing justice and making false statements. She was acquitted of conspiracy charges.

Pan, a New Jersey resident, was found guilty of conspiracy and attempted wire fraud.

Liu, a Democratic mayoral candidate, told reporters Thursday that he would continue to move forward with his campaign.

"I'm proud of the way that my campaign has been conducted. I've always said that all along," he said. "This is an investigation that has been going on now for almost four years, including tapping my phones, interrogating my supporters. It is what it is. I'm moving forward with my campaign, and at the end of the day, the voters of this great city will decide."

Pan worked with an undercover FBI agent who posed as a donor trying to make an illegal campaign contribution, and secret video and audio recordings of their encounters were entered as evidence.

In a statement, U.S. Preet Bharara says, "As the jury found, Jia Hou and Oliver Pan stuck a knife into the heart of New York City's campaign finance law by violating the prohibition against illegal campaign contributions, all to corruptly advantage the campaign of a candidate for city-wide office."

Defense lawyers argued their clients had never meant to break campaign finance laws.

"It's hard to understand this. She's a wonderful young woman and we'll do whatever we can to reverse it," said Gerald Lefcourt, Hou's defense attorney.

"I can only hope that the legal defense, I think, was a strong one but certainly a very complicated one, and I'm going to have to look myself in the mirror and hope that I made it as clear to them as I could, because it's not an easy thing to understand," said Irwin Rochman, Pan's defense attorney.

Hou and Pan are scheduled to be sentenced in September, and the attempted wire fraud charges alone carry sentences of 20 years in prison.

Both defense attorneys plan to appeal.

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