Two Ohio Men Indicted by Federal Grand Jury in Connection with Illegal Campaign Money Scheme
Update: Suarez and Giorgio pleaded not guilty on Wednesday.
Federal investigators are accusing two businessmen of creating a scheme to funnel $200,000 into political campaigns. Benjamin Suarez of Canton and Michael Giorgio of Cuyahoga Falls have been charged with violating campaign finance laws.
The indictment says the men recruited employees and others associated with their company to make contributions to an unnamed 2012 U.S. House campaign and an unnamed 2012 U.S. Senate campaign.
Investigators say these alleged conduit contributors would make their donations and then the company would fully reimburse them.
While the campaigns are not identified in the indictment, CampaignMoney.com does show Suarez and Giorgio donating a large amount of money to Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who lost a GOP bid to unseat Sen. Sherrod Brown last year, and Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, who defeated Rep. Betty Sutton. The Plain Dealer reports both Mandel and Renacci returned their donations after the contributions were publicized.
The indictment says Suarez and Giorgio disguised the reimbursements as salary and profit sharing.
The U.S. district attorney for northern Ohio says the investigation is still ongoing.