Manhattan, New York:  An 80-year-old California man has been indicted by a Manhattan Federal Court on charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in a nationwide, years-long scheme to defraud donors who believed they were donating their money to various political action committees (PACs) and/or campaigns.

The United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey S. Berman, announced today that John Pierre Dupont, also known as John Gary Rinaldo, was arrested on Wednesday morning and is set to be arraigned this afternoon in the District Court of Arizona.  “Thousands of donors believed their hard-earned money was being used to support the causes described in solicitations, but in reality, the scam PACs had no operations beyond the fundraising itself, and no funds were used to support candidates,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated.

 

The newly obtained criminal complaint alleges that, since 2015, Mr. Dupont knowingly and willingly established and operated several fraudulent PACs and at least a dozen websites in an effort to raise funds for various political purposes – to include future presidential campaigns for the likes of Bernie Sanders, Beto O’Rourke, and other well-known Democrats – just to name a few.  Unfortunately for the donors, not a single penny of the funds were used for or sent to any of the alleged causes.  One such website that was created by Mr. Dupont claimed to be raising money “to unite immigrant families,” an endeavor that seems to tug at the heartstrings of many Americans from both sides of the aisle.

In total, Mr. Dupont’s scam to defraud donors has resulted in more than $250,000 in his pocket, essentially free and clear, or so he thought.  It is further alleged that Mr. Dupont used the fraudulently obtained funds to pay his rent, make continuous cash withdrawals, and purchase a Mercedes-Benz for $25,300.  In addition to the aforementioned charges, the official criminal complaint states that he also failed to report any of the donations to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), as required by law.

Dupont allegedly took donations under false pretenses and then pocketed the cash. (Pexels)

The Los Angeles Times has reported that Dupont previously served prison time for related convictions; in 1985 for mail fraud for yet another grandiose investment scheme, and then again in 1991 for bank fraud and money laundering when he attempted to obtain a $360,000 mortgage on a home that he did not even own.  While incarcerated for the bank fraud and money laundering in northern Oregon, Dupont escaped in 1992 but was captured 5 years later, only to be released again in 1999, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  If convicted this time, he faces up to 22 years in federal prison; a maximum of20 years for the charge of wire fraud and a mandatory 2 years for the charge of aggravated identity theft, to be served consecutive to any other sentence the court imposes. 

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Federal prosecutors say there is no evidence that any of the campaigns or candidates that were fraudulently represented had knowledge of Mr. Dupont’s scheme.

United States Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman has commended law enforcement and the meticulous investigative efforts of the Special Agents with the United States Attorney’s Office.

 

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