A one-time North Andover congressional candidate was convicted Friday by a federal jury in Boston of charges of violating the Federal Election Campaign Act and making false statements.
Abhijit “Beej” Das was convicted of accepting excessive campaign contributions, conduit contributions, conversion of campaign funds and two counts of making false statements. U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns scheduled sentencing for the 50-year-old for Jan. 17. In June 2021, Das was indicted by a federal grand jury relating to campaign money associated with his 2017-2018 run for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 3rd Congressional District.
“Protecting our elections through campaign finance laws is crucial in defending transparency and accountability in our government and a well-functioning democracy,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Levy. “Mr. Das illegally solicited and accepted donations, used the money for a different purpose and hid his actions. He lied to the government and to the voters. He abused the campaign finance process and thought he could get away with it. Today’s speedy verdict by the jury after two-weeks of evidence should send a resounding message that the light of justice will always find its way to political candidates who break the law.”
Jodi Cohen, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division, detailed how Das violated the law, saying in a statement, “Mr. Das solicited his friends and family for at least $125,000 in illegal campaign contributions, used that money for his own business expenses, debts and a 100-foot super yacht, and then lied about it.”
To inflate his fundraising numbers, court records show, Das solicited personal loans from friends and close associates in excess of the $2,700 legal limit. Around Dec. 17, 2017, he emailed a contributor asking for a friend to support his campaign to reach a specific fundraising goal of over $450,000 by the end of the year and indicated that reaching that goal might need “some engineering.” 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.
Further, Das had three different people 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. Prosecutors said Das falsely claimed the money from the excessive contributions was his own and engaged in illegal conduit contributions to his campaign.
In addition, between January and May 2018, Das withdrew approximately $314,500 in funds from his campaign account and used at least $267,000 of these funds 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, officials said, Das 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.
Das attempted to cover up the transfers by overstating the amount of cash-on-hand the Das-for-Congress Campaign had in its bank account. For example, in June 2018, Das reported that his campaign’s total amount of cash-on-hand was approximately $440,000, when the amount was less than $5,000.
This past June, Das was also separately indicted by a federal grand jury in Boston on 10 counts of wire fraud, alleging he diverted more than $5 million in escrow funds from his clients’ accounts for personal expenses. He pleaded not guilty and has been on release pending trial.