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Democrat congressman busted raiding campaign cash for gambling habit was Ethics Committee vet

Democrat congressman busted raiding campaign cash for gambling habit was Ethics Committee vet
Massachusetts State Representative David Nangle allegedly plundered his reelection fund to pay gambling debts and other personal expenses, appropriating hundreds of thousands of donor dollars despite running unopposed.

Nangle (D-Lowell) used his superfluous campaign war chest to cover personal expenses including hotels, restaurants, golf club fees, and mounting gambling debts, concealing his casino winnings and losses as well as his other financial malfeasance from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and campaign finance authorities, according to the 28-count indictment filed last week in Massachusetts District Court. Nangle was arrested on Tuesday.

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Despite running unopposed for his congressional seat since 2013, Nangle formed a reelection committee that year and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, the indictment states, claiming he subsequently used the campaign funds “as his own personal checking account.” He allegedly spent the money on restaurants, country club memberships, gas, and hotels - many of which he was already reimbursed for - when he wasn’t gambling it away, defrauding duped donors who thought they were contributing to his political future as well as the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

Not only did Nangle "fraudulently describe the purpose of such spending as political in nature” in paperwork filed with campaign finance authorities, prosecutors claim, he allegedly even paid someone else to go to the casino to pick up his winnings so his name would not appear on IRS disclosure forms. He reportedly gambled all over New England, hitting casinos in New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island as well as his home state of Massachusetts. Specifically, Nangle is charged with 10 counts of wire fraud, plus a handful of related charges including making false statements to a bank and filing false tax returns.

Ironically, Nangle serves not just on the state’s Ethics Committee, but also both the House and Joint Rules Committees, having been entrusted with leadership responsibilities netting him an additional $37,500 per year on top of the $60,000 he already receives as salary. This was not even close to enough to cover the tens of thousands of dollars he was losing gambling in online casinos, according to the indictment, however, which alleged his financial trickery extended to submitting phony invoices for nonexistent vendors, funneling money to friends of relatives to pay off personal loans, and obtaining a home loan on fraudulent terms from a local bank. Nangle could be forced to forfeit his house if he is convicted.

"This was not a momentary loss of judgment or a technical foul. This was a systematic pattern of theft and fraud going back to at least 2014,” US Attorney Andrew Lelling told reporters on Tuesday. Nangle has served in the state House since 1999.

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Nangle is far from the only veteran state congressman who has faced criminal charges in recent months. Former Maryland State Senator Nathaniel Oaks (D-Baltimore) begged a judge to give him just 18 months instead of the recommended eight to 10 years after pleading guilty to attempting to scam the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Last month, Illinois State Rep. Luis Arroyo pleaded not guilty to bribing a state senator to support video gambling legislation. And in November, former Ohio Rep. Clayton Luckie (D-Dayton) was sentenced to four months in prison for defrauding the city’s “disadvantaged business program” to help a non-disadvantaged contractor obtain city contracts. 

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