Second aide to ex-lawmaker pleads guilty to fraud
A top aide to former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman claimed in federal court Wednesday that the congressman directly instructed him to write hefty checks from a charitable donor to himself, another aide and Stockman’s own campaign funds.
Jason T. Posey, 46, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering in a hearing before Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal.
He is the second former Stockman aide to plead guilty to federal charges. Both admit they aided the former congressman in an alleged scheme to steal more than $1.2 million in charitable donations to finance Stockman’s campaigns, as well as pay their own bills.
Posey set up a number of nonprofit shell companies that were used to solicit charitable donations from individuals and foundations. But instead, the money was diverted into bank accounts to pay for political and personal expenses, according to court records.
At the afternoon hearing, Posey, who also had served as Stockman’s campaign treasurer, admitted he knew his actions violated both federal criminal statutes and federal election laws.
As part of the plea, Posey told the judge he followed Stockman’s instructions to cover their tracks. He said he wrote a letter to a bilked donor and claimed one $350,000 donation was used to aid Third World countries. Posey also admitted that he and a second Stockman congressional employee in 2013 illegally funneled $15,000 in charitable donations into Stockman’s campaign, falsely claiming the donations came from their parents.
Stockman fired Posey after the illegal donations came to light.
However, when Stockman, a fiery Republican, began campaigning to unseat U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in 2014, he again enlisted Posey’s help in the campaign. Posey said he was instructed to misrepresent on campaign fliers where the lucrative contributions were actually going, according to the former aide’s plea.
U.S. Justice Department prosecutors could dismiss nearly a dozen other charges and seek a reduced sentence for Posey if he cooperates with them in preparing for Stockman’s trial, currently set for Jan. 29.
Stockman, who served two terms in congress - representing the 9th Congressional District from 1995 to ’96 and the newly-created 36th district from 2013 to 2014 - has pleaded not guilty to all 28 counts of corruption and conspiracy against him.
“My guy was a player, but he’s not the only player involved,” said Philip Hilder, who represents Posey. “He’s accepting early responsibility, he realizes that he has done misdeeds and is prepared to accept that responsibility and move forward becoming a productive member of society.”
Lawyer attacks Posey
Stockman’s defense attorney, Sean Buckley, countered that Posey turned on his former mentor to get a better deal for himself.
“Instead of accepting full responsibility for his own independent conduct, Mr. Posey has chosen to falsely implicate Congressman Stockman in return for favorable treatment by prosecutors,” he said. “Mr. Posey’s plea agreement is nothing more than the latest example of a federal defendant concluding he has everything to gain and nothing more to lose by giving federal prosecutors what they want.”
Posey, 46, faces up to 45 years in federal prison and a fine of more than $4.8 million plus hundred of thousands of dollars in restitution, Rosenthal said. Posey remains free on bond and intends to return home to Tupelo, Miss., pending sentencing, Hilder said.
The government has accused Stockman of masterminding a scheme that collected $1.2 million from three U.S.-based foundations and individuals, laundering and misspending most of that money, spying on an unnamed opponent, accepting illegal campaign contributions, funneling money through bogus bank accounts and businesses and failing to pay taxes on his ill-gotten gains.
Some of that money went for trips to try to “secure millions of dollars from African countries and companies operating” in Africa, according to the allegations.
Stockman’s other former aide, Thomas Dodd, pleaded guilty on March 20 to two related conspiracy charges and also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
Posey was living in the Middle East when he, along with Stockman, were indicted in March. Posey ultimately turned himself into federal authorities May 23 to face multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, money laundering and making false statements as well as falsifying records and making excessive contributions.
Stockman claims he is innocent and is a victim of a so-called “deep state” conspiracy.
“The evidence will show that Steve Stockman did not defraud any donors. He spent the funds in a way that he thought furthered the donors’ intentions. To the extent that (funds were diverted) he was either unaware of it or he misunderstood it,” said Buckley, who added that Stockman’s legal fees are being paid by anonymous individuals.
Posey’s lawyer seemed unmoved by Buckley’s allegations that his client duped Stockman.
“I do not know what a ‘deep state conspiracy’ is, but I do know what constitutes a criminal conspiracy,” Hilder said.