The father of Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, has been charged with two counts of campaign finance violations and is scheduled to appear in federal court Tuesday to enter a plea in the case, federal court documents state.
Babulal Bera, whose son faces a re-election battle against Republican Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, was charged with making excessive campaign contributions and making contributions in the name of another person.
Court documents filed in federal court in Sacramento late Monday identify Babulal Bera as the target of the charges.
“I am saddened to learn of these allegations against my father, and I understand that he will soon appear in front of a judge to respond to these charges,” Bera said in a statement issued late Monday.
“Since I first learned about this investigation from authorities, my team and I have cooperated fully with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
“Neither I, nor anyone involved with my campaign, was aware of my dad’s activities until we learned about it from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and on the advice of my attorney, I have not discussed this matter or anything else regarding my campaigns with my father.”
He added: “My father taught me the value of hard work and, if not for him, I would not be a doctor. But he also taught me that we are all accountable for our own actions, and while I deeply love him, it’s clear he faces a grave situation that will have real consequences for him.”
Bera, 51, was elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2014. The charges his father faces apparently stem from activities allegedly begun while he was running for the seat against incumbent Republican Rep. Dan Lungren in 2010.
Babulal Bera is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley at 10 a.m. Tuesday for what the court calendar bills as an “arraignment and change of plea” hearing, which typically means a defendant has agreed to a guilty plea.
The charges come amid a pitched political battle for the White House and control of Congress, and affect a seat that in recent years has see-sawed between Republicans and Democrats.
Bera lost his first bid for the seat in 2010, but won the next two races with help from appearances by Democratic leaders and former President Bill Clinton.
His race in the 7th congressional district, a swing district that stretches from Elk Grove to Carmichael to Folsom, is expected to be another difficult campaign as he fends off criticism over his votes on trade and to limit Syrian and Iraqi refugees from settling in the United States.
The charges filed Monday night allege that, beginning in 2009, Bera contributors gave at least $235,000 to a campaign committee in Elk Grove, and that Babulal Bera later caused the contributions to be illegally refunded.
Those contributors “received full or partial reimbursements for their contributions in the form of funds that originated from the defendant (Babulal Bera), either from the defendant directly or through third parties working at the defendant’s behest,” court documents state.
The charging document also alleges that Babulal Bera and his wife “directly and indirectly solicited relatives, friends and acquaintances to make the maximum allowable federal campaign contributions” to a campaign committee, “knowing that his personal money would be used to advance funds to, or reimburse these individuals for the contributions they made.”
This was designed, according to the charging document, to avoid limitations federal law imposes on the amount an individual is allowed to give a congressional candidate in a single election cycle.
The contributions came in between Jan. 31, 2011, and Dec. 5, 2011, and totaled about $43,400, the documents state.
From April 26, 2011, through June 9, 2012, “these contributors received full or partial reimbursements for their contributions in the form of funds that originated from the defendant” or from third parties working on his behalf, the documents state.
Babulal Bera faces up to five years on each of the two felony counts and fines of at least $250,000.
Denny Walsh: 916-321-1189