An Arizona man accused of setting up “scam PACs” to bilk donors to phony political action committees for causes such as autism awareness, abortion opposition and law enforcement support was sentenced to two years in prison in Manhattan federal court on Friday.
William Tierney, 47, of Gilbert, Arizona, was charged last May with raising $23 million from donors to his chain of phony political action committees from 2014 through 2018, using it all on overhead and fundraising, and diverting $3.5 million for personal use.
He pleaded guilty in November to conspiring to defraud thousands of victims out of more than $1 million during 2018. In addition to two years in jail, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman ordered Tierney to pay a $50,000 fine and more than $1.5 million in restitution and forfeiture.
“Today’s sentence sends a clear warning to anyone engaged in fraudulent political fundraising,” Geoffrey Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “Scam PACs are a crime and those perpetrating them will go to prison.”
Solicitations for Tierney’s phony PACs promised to support candidates and “coast to coast” advocacy and awareness efforts for various causes, prosecutors said, using fake identities and shell companies to fool federal election regulators and divert money.
Tierney’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment. His brother, Robert, was originally charged in the case, but prosecution was deferred on condition of good behavior, according to court records.