CLEVELAND - Two North Canton company executives face federal charges for conspiring to violate campaign finance laws and obstruct justice.
A federal indictment unsealed Wednesday names Benjamin Suarez, 72, of Canton, and Michael Giorgio, 61, of Cuyahoga Falls, after both helped funnel nearly $200,000 in conduit contributions to campaigns in the 2012 election, according to Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cleveland Office.
Both are charged with one count of conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws, two counts of violation of campaign finance laws, two counts of making false statements and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. Suarez also faces a count of witness tampering after trying to influence, delay and prevent witness testimony before a federal grand jury.
Suarez agreed to raise $100,000 for an Ohio candidate for the U.S. Senate and $100,000 for an Ohio candidate for the U.S. House. Both Suarez and Giorgio recruited individuals associated with a company to make contributions in their own names and on behalf of their spouses, according to the indictment.
Working with Suarez, Giorgio informed potential contributors that they would be fully reimbursed by the company, states the indictment.
According to the indictment, both men concealed the amount, source of the campaign contributions and identity of the company to hide the influence of Suarez and the company on the 2012 Congressional campaigns.
The indictment lists 18 contributions, all made in March 2011, to a 2012 House campaign. It also includes 20 contributions, all but one made in May 2011, to a 2012 Senate campaign.
“Benjamin Suarez and Michael Giorgio engaged in behavior that blatantly ignored and directly circumvented clearly established campaign financing laws,” said Anthony in a press release. “The FBI is committed to fully investigate any such intentional violations of these laws, which exist to help ensure fair, honest and transparent elections.”
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