Two former aides to New York City Comptroller John Liu were convicted on Thursday of attempting to use straw donors to defraud the city of campaign matching funds, casting a long shadow over Liu’s mayoral campaign.
The convictions of former Liu fundraiser Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan and former treasurer Jia “Jenny” Hou on the first full day of jury deliberations in Manhattan federal court were quickly lauded by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose prosecutors alleged in court that Liu knew of the scheme.
“Cases like this give the people of New York yet another reason to be troubled by the electoral process,” Bharara said.
But lawyers for Hou and Pan said their clients were innocent victims of Bharara’s aggressive pursuit of Liu. “She got caught in the middle of an obsessive quest to get John Liu,” said Gerald Lefcourt, Hou’s lawyer.
Liu said he was “saddened” by the verdict.
Hou “is a very mature person, and she has handled this with incredible grace and dignity.”
Liu added: “I'm proud of the way that my campaign has been conducted ... and at the end of the day, the voters of this great city will decide.”
Pan, 47, and Hou, 26, Liu’s campaign treasurer, were both accused of scheming to have wealthy donors reimburse stand-ins — known as “straw” donors — whose purported contributions up to $175 would be eligible for a 6-to-1 match of public funds.
Sentencing was set for Sept. 20.