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May 23, 2019

Scammer who solicited over $1 million in donations to fake PACs gets two years in prison

March 16, 2019
William Tierney was sentenced to two years in prison for duping donors who thought they were contributing to pro-life and right-wing causes. (iStockphoto)

A scam artist from Arizona was sentenced on Friday to two years in prison for conning $1 million out of donors who thought they were contributing to political action committees focused on pro-life and right-wing causes.

William Tierney, 47, pulled in tens of thousands of small donations from people around the country who thought they were giving money to promote autism awareness and to groups that were actually fake like “Tea Party National Campaign,” “Republican victory,” “Gun right” and the “Pro-Life Committee.”

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“The successful prosecution of William Tierney demonstrates the commitment of the federal government to rooting out fraud and corruption in political action committees,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said. “Today’s sentence sends a clear warning to anyone engaged in fraudulent political fundraising: Scam PACs are a crime and those perpetrating them will go to prison.”

Judge Jesse Furman also ordered William Tierney to pay restitution of $1 million, forfeit $410,649 and pay a fine of $50,000. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

The donations went into Tierney’s pockets or were used to “perpetuate the fraud” through additional telemarketing, fundraising, and other expenditures, prosecutors said. When authorities announced the charges in May, they accused Tierney of running the scam beginning in 2014, earning him a whopping $23 million in fake donations.

His guilty plea to conspiracy to commit wire fraud only covered donations received in 2018.

Prosecutors had also charged Tierney’s brother, Robert. Court filings indicate that Robert was William’s employee and played a much smaller role in the scam. Prosecutors deferred their case against Robert on the condition he stay out of trouble.

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