Former Mass. congressional candidate convicted of violating campaign law

Local News

“He lied to the government and to the voters. He abused the campaign finance process and thought he could get away with it.”

Beej Das, right, talks to voters at the ISSO Shree Swaminarayan Temple in Lowell in 2018. Erin Clark / The Boston Globe

Former Massachusetts congressional candidate Abhijit “Beej” Das was convicted Friday of violating the Federal Election Campaign Act and making false statements, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua S. Levy’s office. 

  • Feds arrest former Massachusetts congressional candidate for allegedly using campaign funds to pay hotel debts

Das, who finished seventh in the Democratic primary won by Rep. Lori Trahan in the 2017-2018 election, was convicted of one count of accepting excessive campaign contributions, one count of conduit contributions, one count of conversion of campaign funds, and two counts of making a false statement.

Prosecutors said Das, 50, created a scheme to solicit personal loans from friends and close associates above the amount allowed by law in December 2017.

“Das 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,’” Levy’s office said. “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.”

Authorities say that in addition, Das “caused” three different people to contribute $125,000 to his campaign, structuring the contributions as personal loans to a family member to circumvent Federal Election Commission reporting requirements. 

“Das falsely claimed that the funds from the excessive contributions were his own personal funds and engaged in illegal conduit contributions to his campaign,” Levy’s office said. 

In addition, Levy’s office said Das withdrew hundreds of thousands of dollars from his campaign account to pay outstanding debts for his hotel business unrelated to his campaign and that he sought to conceal those transactions by “instructing bank tellers to report the withdrawals as separate withdrawal and deposit transactions, rather than direct transfers.”

“Protecting our elections through campaign finance laws is crucial in defending transparency and accountability in our government and a well-functioning democracy,” Levy said in a statement. “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.”

Das was arrested and indicted by a federal grand jury in 2021.

Each of the charges Das is facing provides for up to five years of prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater, according to Levy’s office. He will return to court for sentencing on Jan. 17, 2024.