Tag Archives: Oliver Pan

John Liu’s ex-campaign workers sentenced to prison


| mchan@queenscourier.com


City Comptroller John Liu painted the Thursday sentencing and overall investigation of his two former campaign workers as a “set up a weak man and a wonderful young woman.”

His ex-campaign treasurer and fundraiser will serve time in prison for less than a year for funneling illegal contributions in a straw donor scheme during his bid for mayor.

Jia “Jenny” Hou, 26, was sentenced to 10 months in prison on October 10 for attempting to commit wire fraud, making false statements and obstructing justice.

The former campaign treasurer from Flushing will also be under supervision for three years.

Another aide, Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan, will serve four months in prison and three years under supervision for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and attempting to commit wire fraud.

The 47-year-old of New Jersey was a fundraiser and contribution bundler for Liu.

“For reasons I may never fully understand, the U.S. Attorney’s Office set out to destroy me with what has been described as an extraordinarily intrusive and exhaustive investigation,” Liu said in a statement. “Failing to find that I had done anything wrong, they proceeded to set up a weak man and a wonderful young woman.”

The comptroller, who lost his Democratic primary for mayor in September, said Hou did not deserve the “ordeal and injustice she has been put through.”

He said she was “a good person and exceptional individual” when she was found guilty in May.

Federal officials said Hou and Pan evaded Campaign Finance Board restrictions that limit donor contributions to citywide candidates to $4,950.

The pair used straw donors, prosecutors said, or individuals who illegally make political contributions in their own names with money they have received from others.

Hou was caught offering to reimburse an individual for donations well-above the allowed amount during a series of instant messages on July 14, court records show.

Prosecutors said she also instructed campaign volunteers on how to imitate the handwriting of campaign donors on the contribution forms in order to make it appear official.

Hou also failed to give up documents with identities of several campaign contributors in response to subpoenas and lied about producing them, according to court records.

Pan was caught funneling $16,000 in campaign contributions by an undercover FBI agent, who posed as a businessperson interested in supporting the comptroller, records show.

Liu was not accused of any wrongdoing. However, the trial kept Liu’s campaign from receiving public matching funds that could have doubled his war chest. 

“I am very sad but even more angry at what has occurred,” Liu said after the sentencing of his former aides.  “The U.S. Attorney’s Office was wrong and should not be proud of its conduct.”

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Liu fund-raiser busted for illegal donations


| mchan@queenscourier.com


A fund-raiser for City Comptroller John Liu has been indicted on conspiracy and wire fraud charges.

Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan — who allegedly funneled thousands of dollars in campaign contributions illegally for the comptroller’s unofficial 2013 campaign for mayor — pleaded not guilty in front of a federal judge at the U.S. District Court in Manhattan on February 15.

Pan was arrested in November 2011 when an undercover FBI agent, posing as a businessperson interested in supporting Liu, busted him for engaging in a fraudulent scheme that involved the use of “straw donors” to funnel close to $16,000 worth of illegal campaign contributions, according to the criminal complaint.

Straw donors, the FBI explained, are individuals who violate campaign finance laws by making campaign contributions in their own names with money they have received from others.

According to the criminal complaint, Pan received a $16,000 campaign contribution from the undercover cop — an amount well above the $4,950 individual limit authorized by the New York City Campaign Finance Board.

The FBI said in an effort to evade the restriction, Pan planned for 20 straw donors to each make $800 donations instead — later allegedly using the $16,000 he received from the cop to reimburse the straw donors for their contributions.

“Corruption in campaign finance corrupts the entire political process, and it can call into question the legitimacy of our elections,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara following Pan’s November arrest. “As alleged, Oliver Pan engaged in a deliberate and flagrant attempt to subvert the campaign finance laws and manipulate the city’s matching fund system. As today’s charges demonstrate, unlawful campaign conduct will not be tolerated, and we will continue to be vigilant and proactive in investigating abuses of our electoral system.”

Pan has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of attempting to commit wire fraud. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Irwin Rochman, Pan’s lawyer, did not immediately respond for comment. However, he told reporters outside the courthouse of his intentions to seek dismissal of the indictment against his client.

“We’re going to make a motion to dismiss the case based on outrageous conduct by the government in the manner in which it conducted the undercover operation which resulted in this indictment,” Rochman said.

Meanwhile, Liu — a Flushing Democrat — has not been accused of any wrongdoing. He could not be reached in time for comment, but according to reports, he has since returned nearly $50,000 in contributions, including $15,200 in contributions collected by Pan.

Politics Aside: Watch the falling dominos


| RHornak@queenscourier.com


Watching one of those world-record setting domino falls, where the pieces go off in all different directions and patterns, is like watching politically connected indictments in Queens these days. As the dominos fall, they get closer and closer to knocking down more elected officials.

A few weeks back this column wrote about the Kool-aid many Queens Democrats must be drinking that makes them think what is obviously unethical is somehow permissible for them. Featured were the scandals surrounding Congressmember Gregory Meeks. Now, the man who gave Meeks $40,000, in what was allegedly a loan, but with no repayment terms, interest, or any signed agreement, is reported to be negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors.

Developer Ehul Ahma’s deal, however, seems to be taking an unusually long time to work out, fueling speculation that he has something to offer regarding the Meeks issue, and possibly other Queens electeds. How far this will reach is not known, but would seem to be a bad omen for Meeks.

Meanwhile, the dominos are also falling around State Senator Shirley Huntley, who saw four of her close associates indicted this past week for allegedly stealing $30,000 in taxpayer “member items” Huntley secured for a local non-profit, Parent Workshop, Inc, that she founded before being elected.

The indictments included Lynn Smith, Huntley’s niece and Parent Workshop’s treasurer, and Patricia Savage, Parent Workshop’s President and Huntley’s Chief of Staff. The probe was conducted jointly by the Attorney General and State Comptroller’s offices, and is said to be ongoing, indicating more indictments could follow.

And the dominos are falling fast and furiously around City Comptroller John Liu, who is seeing scandals arising involving almost everyone in his fundraising operation, and has yet to reveal the names of the bundlers from his 2009 campaign, whose names he was supposed to reveal in order to receive matching funds.

One of Liu’s known bundlers, Oliver Pan, was arrested a few weeks back for breaking campaign finance laws, including creating “straw donors” to funnel money above legal limits to candidates. This is an allegation recently made against Liu’s fundraising operation, with many of his donors having no idea they made a contribution, or some seeming not to exist at all.

Keep watching the dominos fall. It’s always entertaining to see the patterns they create, and to see if they will go all the way to the end, taking all the dominos down in one motion.