A WASHINGTON CHAUFFEUR has been found guilty of taking part in an illegal scheme to cover up mayoral campaign donations and sentenced to a year’s probation.
Mark Long (49) was chauffeur to US Democrat politician Vincent Gray and pleaded guilty in September 2014 to conspiring with businessman Jeffrey Thompson to conceal campaign donations in 2010 when Gray was running for mayor in the Washington District of Columbia.
According to his court plea, Long’s $30,000 wages and luxury Lincoln Navigator vehicle were paid for but not officially reported as required by campaign contribution regulations.
In a volatile court hearing, assistant US attorney Jonathan Hooks repeatedly asked DC Superior Court judge Anita Josey-Herring to send the chauffeur to prison.
The prosecution counsel said: “This is a sad day. This defendant has had so much opportunity, so much good fortune. And he has done nothing but squander his opportunities. He has lied and lied and fabricated facts and evidence.”
The US attorney also accused Long of lying to FBI agents and of tax evasion between 2008 to 2010, involving a sum of $200,000.
But Long’s attorney Charles Wagner argued that Long was merely a paid employee who never violated political campaign finance rules and should receive probation and not be sent to prison.
Wagner said it was “outrageous” that the authorities were seeking the same punishment for Long as Thompson, who has admitted to channeling $653,000 to a get-out-the-vote effort on Gray’s behalf.
“He (Thompson) was the kingpin, the orchestrator. They (the authorities) have agreed to a devil’s bargain with him so he can sit at home and drink champagne. They gave him a pass.”
Josey-Herring sentenced Long to six months in prison but suspended the sentence and placed the former chauffeur on probation for 12 months.
The judge also ordered him to perform 120 hours of community and speak to teenagers and young adults about the pitfalls of conspiracy and the violation of campaign finance laws.
Gray himself has denied all knowledge of the shadow mayoral campaign and has not faced district or federal charges for the illegal use of political donations.