Insurance Broker and Executive Director of South Amboy, New Jersey Housing Authority Charged with Federal Election Fraud

NEWARK, NJ—A Newark federal grand jury has indicted Francis X. Gartland, an insurance broker, and Thomas J. O'Leary, the executive director of the South Amboy Housing Authority, for alleged federal election fraud, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced. The six-count indictment, returned by the grand jury on May 17, 2011, and unsealed today, variously charges Gartland, 70, of Baltimore, Md., and O'Leary, 49, of South Amboy, N.J., with conspiracy to defraud the United States, violations of federal elections laws, and causing false statements to be submitted to the Federal Election Commission in connection with the 2006 Democratic primary campaign of Joseph Vas for United States Congress in New Jersey's 13th District.

O'Leary surrendered this morning to special agents of the FBI and is scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk in Newark federal court. Gartland, who was separately charged in December 2010 for, among other things, allegedly participating in a bribery and kickback scheme and evading federal income taxes, is currently out on a $1 million bond in connection with those charges. An arraignment for both defendants will be scheduled before the U.S. District Judge assigned to the case.
According to the indictment unsealed today:

Gartland and O'Leary allegedly participated in a scheme to use "straw" or "conduit" contributors to funnel contributions to the Vas congressional campaign. Vas, the former mayor of Perth Amboy and New Jersey state assemblyman, and Melvin Ramos, Vas' former mayoral aide and the treasurer of Vas' campaign, were convicted on October 8, 2010, following a jury trial, of charges of mail fraud, fraud and misapplication of funds, false statements, and federal election crimes. Vas and Ramos were sentenced to 78 and 37 months in prison, respectively, by U.S. District Judge Susan D. Wigenton on April 12, 2011. In addition to the prison terms, Judge Wigenton sentenced Vas and Ramos to three years of supervised release and ordered them to pay $90,000 in restitution to Perth Amboy. Vas was also ordered to pay a $73,200 fine.

The indictment charging Gartland and O'Leary alleges that during the 2005-2006 election cycle, the defendants recruited 15 straw contributors to contribute between $2,000 and $2,100 each to Vas' federal campaign committee. Gartland and O'Leary allegedly funded the straw contributions by reimbursing each of the contributors by cash or check. Straw contributions are prohibited by the Federal Election Campaign Act.

The charges in the Indictment and maximum potential penalties per count are as follows:
Count(s) Charged Defendant(s) Maximum Potential Penalty
1– conspiracy to defraud the United States O'Leary, Gartland Five years in prison; $250,000 fine, or twice the aggregate gain or loss
2 – making contributions to a federal candidate in the names of others (more than $10,000 in a calendar year) Gartland Two years in prison; fine of
not less than 300 percent and
not more than the greater of
$50,000 or 1,000 percent of
the amount involved in the
3 – making contributions to a federal candidate in the names of others O'Leary One year in prison; $100,000 fine
4,5 – causing false statements to the Federal Election Commission Gartland Five years in prison; $250,000 fine, or twice the aggregate gain or loss
6 – causing false statements to the Federal Election Commission O'Leary Five years in prison; $250,000 fine, or twice the aggregate gain or loss
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael B. Ward, with the investigation leading to the Indictment.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee M. Cortes Jr., of the U.S. Attorney's Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Gartland: John D. Arseneault Esq., Chatham, N.J.
O'Leary: Sam Braverman Esq., Bronx, N.Y.