Democratic Rep. Ami Bera’s father, Babulal “Bob” Bera, 83, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison on Thursday for making illegal campaign contributions to his son’s 2010 and 2012 campaigns in California’s 7th district.
According to the Sacramento Bee, the senior Bera will likely serve 10 months in prison. He was also fined $100,000 and was additionally sentenced to three years of supervision upon release. Despite a recommendation from Babulal’s probation officer that the elder man be spared due to his age and health, U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley proceeded with the sentencing.
Babulal pleaded guilty to two counts of felony election finance fraud in Sacramento federal court in May. He made excessive campaign contributions and campaign contributions in the name of another, an illegal practice otherwise known as “straw donations.”
As part of the plea agreement with the government, Babulal’s wife was reportedly not charged with any part in the crime.
The maximum sentence he could have received was reportedly five years in prison. A written plea agreement signed by Babulal says he had contributed $268,726 by straw donors, friends and relatives who were recruited by him with the promise that they would be paid back. He gave back all but $5,326.
The agreement further notes that the names and contributions of each of the individuals involved have not been made public and that the government “has identified over 130 improper campaign contributions involving approximately 90 contributors” in total.
Ami Bera, 51, the sitting incumbent who is seeking his third term in office come November, said he was unaware of his father’s actions. Bera is competing against Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, a Republican, for the 7th Congressional District seat.
Bera issued a statement in response to the allegations agains his father back in May. Part of it read:
I am saddened to learn of these allegations against my father, and I understand that he will soon appear in front of a judge to respond to these charges.
Since I first learned about this investigation from authorities, my team and I have cooperated fully with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Neither I, nor anyone involved with my campaign, was aware of my dad’s activities until we learned about it from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and on the advice of my attorney, I have not discussed this matter or anything else regarding my campaigns with my father.
My father taught me the value of hard work and, if not for him, I would not be a doctor. But he also taught me that we are all accountable for our own actions, and while I deeply love him, it’s clear he faces a grave situation that will have real consequences for him.
The Bee notes that while none of the bogus donors have ever been charged, acting U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert has acknowledged they “knew what was going on.”
Update: A spokesperson for Rep. Bera told Breitbart News Friday, via email: “The acting U.S. Attorney, Phillip Talbert, said in May that their investigation found that neither Rep. Bera nor his campaign knew anything about the illegal campaign donations.” She added the following official statement from Rep. Bera:
This is one of the most difficult moments my family has ever experienced. My dad is 83 years old and my mom is 82, and Janine and I are worried about both of my parents. Of course I’m absolutely devastated and heartbroken for how today’s decision will impact our entire family. But my father’s accepted what he did was wrong, he’s taken responsibility, and I love him more than words can express.
She also pointed to a statement by acting U.S. Attorney, Phillip Talbert:
Congressman Bera and his campaign staff have been fully cooperative in this investigation. To date, there is no indication from what we’ve learned in the investigation that either the congressman or his campaign staff knew of, or participated in, the reimbursements of contributions.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz