- Argeros also pleads guilty to lying to grand jury about money
- Obama agreed to photo with foreign national who gave cash
A Florida man pleaded guilty to helping funnel $80,000 in illegal foreign campaign contributions to a joint fundraising committee for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012.
William Argeros, 57, also admitted Monday in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, that he lied to a grand jury in 2015. Argeros said he facilitated the transfer of the $80,000 to Bilal Shehu, a New Jersey resident who gave it to the committee.
Shehu pleaded guilty on June 29, saying he went to a San Francisco fundraising event on Oct. 8, 2012, with a foreign national who was denied entry but allowed to get a photograph with Obama.
Albania’s main opposition Democratic Party made a criminal complaint against Prime Minister Edi Rama, accusing him of giving $80,000 to secure a photo with Obama, according to a July 4 report from the Associated Press. Rama used the picture to show his affinity to Obama, only months before the parliamentary elections that brought his Socialist Party to power, AP reported.
Rama denied taking part in “electoral meetings” with Obama or paying for tickets to the event. He said he met Shehu “as a member of the Albanian community in New York,” according to AP.
U.S. law bars foreign nationals from contributing to federal candidates or fundraising committees. Argeros, of Tampa, admitted that he told foreign nationals how to transfer the money and provide payment to the committee.
The case is U.S. v. Argeros, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).