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Arizona brothers accused of scamming donors out of $50 million

(Twitter Photo/@TheJusticeDept)

PHOENIX — The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York announced that two Arizona brothers were arrested in Gilbert on Thursday and charged with bilking unsuspecting donors to political action committees out of more than $50 million.

William Tierney, 46, and Robert Tierney, 40, were charged with wire fraud conspiracy, mail fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy for their role in a nationwide, multiyear scheme, according to a Department of Justice news release.

The brothers allegedly operated nine scam PACs that raised more than $23 million between 2014 and 2017 and more than $50 million over the past 10 years.

“In reality, as alleged, these PACs were political action committees in name only – they engaged in no advocacy campaigns, education efforts, or political operations, and donated less than one percent of the money they raised to candidates for office, all while personally enriching the defendants,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in the release.

Telemarketing centers solicited funds, ostensibly for the anti-abortion movement, law enforcement, autism awareness and other causes.

The fraudulent PACs included the Republican Majority PAC, Life and Liberty PAC, Americans for Law enforcement PAC and Protect Our Future PAC, the New York Post reported.

Berman said during a telephone conference call with reporters that bogus PACs are a “growing problem” and an outgrowth of “consumer fraud schemes hiding in the tall grass of our political system.”

The prosecutor said the Tierney brothers spent 85 cents on every dollar received on the apparatus used to collect money, including shell companies and telemarketing centers. Another 14 cents of every dollar went into their pockets.

Authorities said the men also used fake identities to raise money and avoided press coverage of the fundraising efforts even though the PACs claimed in their solicitation materials that they were raising money for national advocacy and awareness campaigns.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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