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Straw campaign donor mastermind caught on tape on LI

Several of the secretly taped incriminating conversations by hotel magnate Sant Singh Chatwal that led him to admit illegally funneling $180,000 in campaign contributions through straw donors took place on Long Island, court records show.

Chatwal, 70, who owns the Chatwal and Dreams hotels and Bombay Palace restaurants, is a major Democratic donor and a big supporter of Bill and Hillary Clinton. He has homes in New York and Old Brookeville.

Chatwal pled guilty yesterday in Brooklyn federal district court to evading contribution limits in a scheme that lasted from March 2007 to August 2011, and to witness tampering. He will be sentenced July 31 and he faces up to six years in prison. As part of his plea agreement, Chatwal must forfeit $1 million.

Hillary Clinton is one of three candidates who received the campaign contributions. Many of the straw donors – people who donated money to the candidates but were reimbursed by Charwal - were from Long Island.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York, which covers Long Island, said that none of the candidates who received money participated in or were aware of Chatwal’s scheme.

Closer to Long Island, Chatwal was a friend of former Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Roslyn Heights) – Ackerman took Chatwal as his guest to President Barack Obama’s first White House State Dinner, for the prime minister of India, on Nov. 29, 2009.

Nearly a year later, on Oct. 28, 2010, Chatwal and three of his relatives each gave a check for $2,400 to the campaign fund of Ackerman.

That same month, according  to court papers, Chatwal delivered the statement he’ll long be remembered for in political circles. In a secretly recorded conversation with an informant in Nassau County about campaign contributions, Chatwal said:

“Without that nobody will even talk to you. When they are in need of money… the money you give then they are always for you. That’s the only way to buy them, get into the system.”



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