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Ex-lobbyist indicted for illegal contributions

Paul Magliocchetti

The head of a now-defunct lobbying firm was arrested on Thursday on charges he made illegal campaign contributions in an effort to build his clout and win more clients in the defense industry, the Justice Department said.

Paul Magliocchetti, 64, was indicted on 11 counts of violating federal election laws that regulate and limit contributions to political candidates and parties for more than five years, stretching from January 2003 to November 2008.

The indictment, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, said Magliocchetti used personal and corporate money to finance campaign contributions made at his direction by relatives, friends, employees and others.

As a result, he caused campaign committees to file false statements with the Federal Election Commission, according to the indictment. The indictment did not name the campaigns that were involved.

Before starting his own firm PMA Group Inc, Magliocchetti was a staff member on the defense subcommittee of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, which was led by Democratic Representative John Murtha, who died in February.

A House ethics committee investigated whether lawmakers improperly or illegally considered campaign contributions when they steered hundreds of millions of dollars in mostly no-bid contracts to some 40 companies, including PMA.

The panel cleared Magliocchetti’s former boss, Murtha, and six other House lawmakers of wrongdoing but the committee cited “troubling aspects” involving PMA’s conduct.

The ethics report noted some “strong-arm tactics” in which the lobbying firm threatened to withdraw financial support or encourage businesses to relocate out of a member’s district.

Magliocchetti, who is being treated at a psychiatric facility in Baltimore, was released by the court on a $2 million bond on condition that he continue receiving mental health treatment and remain in the Washington, D.C., area or at his home in Florida.

A lawyer for Magliocchetti was not immediately available for comment.

In a related case, his son, Mark Magliocchetti, pleaded guilty in federal court in Virginia on Thursday to charges he made illegal corporate campaign contributions.

Copyright © 2010 Reuters