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August 4, 2011

PROMINENT LA ATTORNEY FACES SIX MONTHS IN JAIL FOR CONDUIT CONTRIBUTIONS TO A FEDERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles-based litigator Pierce O’Donnell pleaded guilty today to two counts of making illegal campaign contributions to a political committee supporting the election of a candidate for president of the United States.

O’Donnell, of O’Donnell & Associates, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges of making “conduit contributions” in March 2003 during a federal election campaign.

In a plea agreement with prosecutors, O’Donnell agreed to serve six months in federal prison. At the sentencing hearing, United States District Judge S. James Otero will decide whether to accept the plea agreement and impose the six months sentence. A sentencing hearing has been set for November 7, 2011.

“As an experienced attorney and former candidate for the United States Congress, Pierce O’Donnell should have been well aware of federal election laws concerning campaign contributions,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “Instead, Mr. O’Donnell chose to circumvent the laws designed to maintain transparency and shed light on the campaign process.”

In the plea agreement filed this week in United States District Court, O’Donnell specifically admitted that he reimbursed 10 people who each made a $2,000 contribution to the presidential campaign. O’Donnell solicited employees of his law firm and at least one relative to make contributions to the campaign – contributions that O’Donnell reimbursed, thus concealing the fact that O’Donnell was the true source of the contributions. The illegal contributions are called conduit contributions because the person who makes the “contribution” is advanced or reimbursed the funds for the contribution, thus serving as a conduit for the real contributor.

In addition to serving six months in jail, O’Donnell has agreed to pay a $20,000 fine and perform 200 hours of community service. Those parts of the plea agreement are also contingent the Court’s approval.

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