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Lobbyist at center of investigation arrested, charged

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
  • Paul Magliocchetti headed the once-influential PMA Group
  • He was charged with providing money from "straw" contributors
  • The money allegedly went to build his influence with Capitol Hill powerbrokers

Washington (CNN) -- The founder and head of a now-defunct lobbying firm accused of providing illegal campaign contributions to members of Congress was arrested by FBI agents and charged Thursday.

Paul Magliocchetti, president of the once-influential PMA Group, was charged with a scheme to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars from sham contributors to favored lawmakers to build his power and influence with Capitol Hill powerbrokers.

PMA's ties to lawmakers, including the late Congressman Jack Murtha, D-Pennsylvania, and Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Indiana, on behalf of defense contractors seeking earmarks, prompted a series of investigations. The House ethics committee determined the campaigns were unaware of the "straw" donors scheme secretly funded by PMA. No ethics charges resulted.

However, the FBI criminal probe nabbed Maggliocchetti, who appeared in court in Alexandria, Virginia, late Thursday. He was released on $2 million bond, with a judge instructing him to return to a psychiatric facility in Maryland where he has been undergoing treatment. His arraignment was set for August 13.

Meanwhile his son, Mark Magliocchetti, pleaded guilty Thursday in the same courthouse to related charges of making more than $120,000 in illegal corporate campaign contributions. His sentencing was set for November 16.