CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - A federal jury on Wednesday indicted Harvey Whittemore, a developer and one-time powerbroker in Nevada politics, on criminal charges related to campaign contributions.
Whittemore is charged with one count each of making excessive campaign contributions and making contributions in the names of others, and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators.
Each count carries a possible prison sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine.
The indictment accuses Whittemore, 55, of devising a scheme to solicit campaign contributions from family members and employees for an unnamed member of Congress in 2007 and skirt federal election law limits by reimbursing them.
"In numerous cases, he provided money to the contributors before the contributions were made," the indictment said.
Federal Election Commission records show Whittemore, family members and employees of his former company, Wingfield Nevada Group Holding Co., contributed about $150,000 in a single day to U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., in March 2007.
Federal prosecutors in a statement announcing the indictment did not identify the recipient of Whittemore's contributions and said Whittemore "allegedly concealed the scheme from the FEC, the elected official and the elected official's campaign committee."
The indictment alleges Whittemore tried to conceal some of the reimbursements by telling employees they were bonuses.
Federal law in 2007 capped individual campaign contributions to a candidate at $4,600. The law also prohibits making contributions in another person's name to hide the identity of the true donor.
The investigation into Whittemore's campaign contributions began after his former business partners, Thomas Seeno and Albert Seeno Jr., filed a civil lawsuit against him in state court in Las Vegas accusing him of misappropriating millions from Wingfield Nevada Group to support a lavish lifestyle including private jet flights, home improvement projects and entertainment.
Whittemore responded shortly after with a civil lawsuit in federal court, saying the Seenos were falsely accusing him of fraud and embezzlement.