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Businessman Is Charged in Election Finance Probe

April 07, 1999

LOS ANGELES — The Justice Department on Tuesday announced the filing of criminal charges against Los Angeles businessman Robert S. Lee stemming from its probe of campaign finances leading up to the 1996 election.

In a criminal information filed in U.S. District Court, Lee, 49, was charged with a misdemeanor violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act by giving the Democratic National Committee a $150,000 check drawn from an account entirely funded by a South Korean corporation.

The case alleges that Lee aided and abetted the making of a prohibited campaign contribution by foreign nationals. U.S. laws specifically prohibit foreign nationals or corporations from making contributions to a U.S. election.

If convicted, Lee, who is scheduled to be arraigned April 26, could receive up to one year in prison. He could be fined $25,000 or three times the amount of the contribution--or both, according to the Justice Department.

The filing of a criminal information, rather than an indictment, virtually always means that the defendant has decided to plead guilty, usually as part of an agreement to cooperate with the government. Justice Department officials declined to comment on any possible agreement, however.

Lee's attorney also declined comment.

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