A former congressional candidate from North Andover was arrested today after being indicted on charges of violating the Federal Election Campaign Act and making false statements.
A federal grand jury indicted 47-year-old Abhijit “Beej” Das for accepting excessive campaign contributions; conduit contributions; conversion of campaign funds; engaging in a scheme to falsify, conceal and cover up material facts; and two counts of making a false statement. Das is scheduled to make his initial court appearance today before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Jennifer C. Boal.
“Mr. Das allegedly solicited illegal campaign donations, used the money for his own business expenses and debts, and then attempted to conceal his actions,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell,
Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston office said Das allegedly solicited at least $125,000 from friends and family in illegal campaign contributions, “repeatedly dipping into his campaign coffers to pay outstanding debts related to his hotel business, and falsifying campaign finance reports to try and cover his tracks.” Bonavolonta added Das undertook the actions to “show he was a viable candidate for office.”
Das is CEO of Troca Hotels, a developer of small boutique hotels. One is Stonehedge Hotel and Spa, Tyngsboro. In 2019, the company said Stonehedge Hotel and Spa would become “the first cannabis friendly hotel in Massachusetts and that cannabis tolerance was officially added as a brand standard for the company.”
Das was a Democratic candidate seeking to succeed U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas in the U.S. House of Representatives. Prosecutors said Das allegedly emailed a contributor on or about Dec. 17, 2017, asking for a friend to support his campaign to reach a specific fundraising goal of more than $450,000 by the end of the year. He said reaching that goal might need “some engineering.” It is alleged that Das advised a member of his campaign that he would “aggregate” the loans into “one batch” and execute a main transfer into the campaign account.
The indictment charges Das also caused three different individuals to contribute approximately $125,000 to his campaign and structured the contributions as personal loans to a family member to circumvent Federal Election Commission reporting requirement and contribution limits. He falsely claimed that the funds from the excessive contributions were his own personal funds and engaged in illegal conduit contributions to his campaign.
It is also alleged that between January and May 2018, Das withdrew approximately $314,500 from his campaign account and used at least $267,000 to pay outstanding debts for his hotel business relating to vendors, the hotel’s yacht and real estate taxes unrelated to his congressional campaign. In making these withdrawals, Das allegedly sought to conceal his conversion of campaign funds by instructing bank tellers to report the withdrawals as separate withdrawal and deposit transactions, rather than direct transfers.
Prosecutors charged Das also filed false information in quarterly reports to the FEC by overstating the amount of cash-on-hand the Das-for-Congress Campaign had in its campaign bank account. For example, on June 30, 2018, Das allegedly reported that his campaign’s total amount of cash-on-hand was approximately $440,000, when in fact the amount of cash-on-hand in the campaign bank account was less than $5,000.