Texas Man Jailed for Scamming More Than $500k With Fake PACs Supporting Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

A man who admitted to fraudulently soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to fake political action committees (PACs) he set up during the 2016 presidential election campaign has been jailed.

Kyle Gerald Prall, 40, of Austin, Texas, has been sentenced to 36 months in prison after pleading guilty to one count of mail fraud in connection to the scam involving political contributions in May.

According to the Justice Department, Prall set up several political committees, including ones named Feel Bern, HC4President and Trump Victory, in order to solicit donations online.

He claimed that he would use the money to support the candidates in a number of ways, such as paying for transportation so voters could get to the polls and training volunteers to make phone calls and canvas on the streets.

However, instead, Prall paid a large percentage of the money to himself through sham limited liability company (LLC) accounts he created and used the rest to generate additional contributions to his fake PACs.

In total, Prall transferred $205,496 of the $548,428 in contributions he received to himself while only donating $5,100 to political causes.

Prall also used his contributors' debit cards to pay for travel and hotels, as well as food, drinks, room service and minibar fees, "club dances performed by entertainers," a deep-tissue massage and a pet-cleaning fee.

"Prall exploited the honest political engagement of countless citizens by representing that his organizations were supporting presidential candidates when in fact he was just stealing contributions," Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski said in a statement following Prall's guilty plea in May.

"In addition to cheating people out of their money, fraud committed in connection with our elections corrodes public confidence in our democratic institutions. The Department of Justice is committed to investigating and prosecuting these crimes."

As part of his guilty plea, Prall was ordered to pay the $548,428 in donations he received in restitution and forfeit the $205,496 that was obtained from his offending.

"Making donations to a political cause, campaign or candidate is an important expression of free speech and a right all Americans should enjoy," said Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs of the FBI's San Antonio division.

"By misappropriating the donations for his own personal use, the defendant not only violated the trust of his victims, he also deprived them of their fundamental right to free speech. The FBI is committed to protecting this right, and holding individuals, like the defendant accountable."

Combs added: "Before making donations citizens should be mindful of this unscrupulous fraud scheme and exercise due diligence in researching the legitimacy of an organization."

trump
Supporters cheer Republican Donald Trump during a rally at Giant Center November 4, 2016 in Hershey, Pennsylvania. A Texas man has been sentenced to 36 months in prison for fraudulently soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions through several fake PACs during the 2016 election. Mark Makela/Getty
Texas Man Jailed for Scamming More Than $500k With Fake PACs Supporting Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders | U.S.