Former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after a jury found him guilty earlier this year of 23 fraud charges related to a four-year scheme to defraud charitable donors and illegally use their cash for personal expenses and to finance his campaigns for office.
In addition to the lengthy prison sentence, Lee Rosenthal, who serves as chief judge of the Southern District of Texas, also ordered Stockman to pay $1 million in restitution and serve three years of supervised release.
In April, Stockman was convicted by a Houston federal jury of mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to make false statements to the Federal Election Commission, making excessive coordinated campaign contributions, money laundering and filing a false tax return.
Prosecutors alleged the 61-year-old former congressman, a Republican, used his political career to pull off what they described as a “white-collar crime spree” by using his ill-gotten gains to pay for balloon rides, kennel bills, flights to Africa, and a trip to Disneyland. Stockman decried the criminal case against him, blaming it on an ongoing conspiracy from the “deep state” resulting from his criticism of the IRS.
“At trial, the government proved to the jury that former Congressman Stockman ran his campaign and fraudulent charities to simply enrich himself and defrauded well-meaning donors,” said Ryan Patrick, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas, whose office prosecuted Stockman. “This type of corruption by public officials gives our entire democratic system a black eye.”
Prosecutors claimed at trial that Stockman and others solicited $1.2 million in donations from charitable organizations based on false pretenses, using phony nonprofit organizations and dozens of bank accounts to launder the money before using it for personal and campaign expenses.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the U.S. Justice Department’s Criminal Division, who prosecuted Stockman said: “As this case demonstrates, the Justice Department and our law enforcement partners will aggressively pursue corrupt public officials, including those who seek to corrupt our elections for personal gain.
Sean Buckley, a Houston attorney who represents Stockman, did not return a call for comment.
Two of Stockman’s former congressional staffers previously pleaded guilty in the case.
Thomas Dodd, 39, of Houston, pleaded guilty in 2017 to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to make conduit contributions and false statements; and Jason T. Posey, 48, of Tupelo, Mississippi, pleaded guilty last year to one count of mail fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of money laundering.