Political Consultant Pleads Guilty in Philadelphia Corruption Scandal

PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Prosecutors notched another victory Friday in the case over a Philadelphia judge who took money from his opponent in the 2012 election to drop out of the race.

Though he pleaded not guilty to the charges in October, Donald Jones admitted this morning that he lied to the FBI during its investigation of the payments in May 2017.

A Philadelphia-area political consultant, 62-year-old Jones was charged alongside fellow political operative Kenneth Smukler three weeks after former Municipal Court Judge Jimmie Moore pleaded guilty to a charge of lying to the Federal Elections Commission about the same matter.

Moore was elected to the court in 1999 but also launched unsuccessful campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 and 2016.

As part of his guilty plea, the 66-year-old former judge admitted that he dropped out of the 2012 primary race in exchange for a $90,000 payout from his opponent.

Moore faced mounting debts from the 2012 campaign and used the money to pay vendors and reimburse himself for loans he had made to the campaign.

Prosecutors said he slipped up by falsifying his record of that payment with the FEC.

Court documents do not identify Moore’s rival, but the judge’s opponent in the 2012 primary race was was the incumbent leader of Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady.

First elected in 1998, Brady is a powerful power broker in the city, having been chairman of the Philadelphia Democratic Party since 1986, and is the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Committee on House Administration. He has not been charged with any crimes.

Smukler and Jones ran the political-consulting companies, Voter Link Data Systems and D. Jones & Associates, that routed the payments from Brady.

Prosecutors said Smukler and Jones willfully caused Moore’s campaign committee to omit the funds in reports filed with the FEC, leaving out mention of their political-consulting companies. Moore meanwhile had his campaign manager, Carolyn Cavaness, create a company whose sole purpose was to accept and use the congressman’s money.

Cavaness pleaded guilty for her role in the scheme back in June, while Jones pleaded guilty Friday to making a false statement to the FBI.

A resident of Willingboro, New Jersey, Jones admitted that his company received a $25,000 payment from Rep. Brady, described in the record only as Moore’s opponent.

That August, D. Jones & Associates sent a check for that same amount to the company created by Cavaness.

Though Cavaness performed no work for Jones’ company or the campaign of Moore’s opponent, the payment was disguised as a payment for her consulting services.

The plea deal makes reference as well to $65,000 in payments that Brady made to Smukler’s political consulting company, Voter Link Data Systems, which subsequently sent Cavaness $65,000 in disguised payments.

When questioned by the FBI this year about his payment to Cavaness’s company, Jones lied that Cavaness had performed work for his company and the campaign of Moore’s opponent.

Charges against Smukler, the remaining co-defendant, remain outstanding.

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