NJ man pleads guilty to steering illegal contributions to Sen. Bob Menendez

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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The owner of a New Jersey medical imaging company pleaded guilty Tuesday to making $21,400 in illegal campaign contributions to Democratic New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez between 2005 and 2008.

Benedetto Bigica, 45, and two of his family members served as “straw contributors” to Menendez, according to northjersey.com, with Bigica’s brother Joseph reimbursing them for their contributions.

The scheme allowed Joseph Bigica to donate far more than the amount allowed by the Federal Election Campaign Act — a total of $98,600 between 2005 and 2009.

That brings the total money involved in the Bigica brothers’ crimes to $120,000.

“Senator Menendez’s campaign, a victim of the fraud that ensued, cooperated fully with the investigation,” Menendez’s former campaign manager Mike Solimon said Tuesday.

Solimon said the senator donated the illegal contributions to charity after Joseph Bigica pleaded guilty in May 2012 to two criminal charges and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Benedetto Bigica, meanwhile, faces up to five years behind bars for his part in the scheme.

“U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI,  under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge David Velazquez in Newark;  special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting  Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen, and criminal investigators from  the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s  guilty plea,” according to a press release issued Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Newark.

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