LOS ANGELES — Pierce O’Donnell, a lead attorney representing victims of Hurricane Katrina in a case against the U.S. government, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he reimbursed employees of his law firm, and others, who gave $26,000 in campaign contributions to a committee supporting a presidential candidate, believed to be then-Senator John Edwards, D-N.C.
A trial date was set for Oct. 21.
O’Donnell, of Los Angeles-based O’Donnell & Associates, was indicted last month on charges of, among other things, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission by failing to reveal the “conduit” campaign contributions made in 2003. He could face up to 12 years in federal prison.
Tom Furlong, a spokesman for O’Donnell, declined to comment. A call to his lawyer, Brian O’Neill, a partner in the Los Angeles office of Jones Day, was not returned. Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, where the case is being prosecuted, declined to comment.
In 2006, in a similar investigation by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, O’Donnell pleaded no contest to five misdemeanor counts of using a false name while making political contributions to the 2001 mayoral campaign of James Hahn. He paid a $155,000 fine.