City Comptroller John Liu painted the Thursday sentencing and overall investigation of his two former campaign workers as a “set up a weak man and a wonderful young woman.”
His ex-campaign treasurer and fundraiser will serve time in prison for less than a year for funneling illegal contributions in a straw donor scheme during his bid for mayor.
Jia “Jenny” Hou, 26, was sentenced to 10 months in prison on October 10 for attempting to commit wire fraud, making false statements and obstructing justice.
The former campaign treasurer from Flushing will also be under supervision for three years.
Another aide, Xing Wu “Oliver” Pan, will serve four months in prison and three years under supervision for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and attempting to commit wire fraud.
The 47-year-old of New Jersey was a fundraiser and contribution bundler for Liu.
“For reasons I may never fully understand, the U.S. Attorney’s Office set out to destroy me with what has been described as an extraordinarily intrusive and exhaustive investigation,” Liu said in a statement. “Failing to find that I had done anything wrong, they proceeded to set up a weak man and a wonderful young woman.”
The comptroller, who lost his Democratic primary for mayor in September, said Hou did not deserve the “ordeal and injustice she has been put through.”
He said she was “a good person and exceptional individual” when she was found guilty in May.
Federal officials said Hou and Pan evaded Campaign Finance Board restrictions that limit donor contributions to citywide candidates to $4,950.
The pair used straw donors, prosecutors said, or individuals who illegally make political contributions in their own names with money they have received from others.
Hou was caught offering to reimburse an individual for donations well-above the allowed amount during a series of instant messages on July 14, court records show.
Prosecutors said she also instructed campaign volunteers on how to imitate the handwriting of campaign donors on the contribution forms in order to make it appear official.
Hou also failed to give up documents with identities of several campaign contributors in response to subpoenas and lied about producing them, according to court records.
Pan was caught funneling $16,000 in campaign contributions by an undercover FBI agent, who posed as a businessperson interested in supporting the comptroller, records show.
Liu was not accused of any wrongdoing. However, the trial kept Liu’s campaign from receiving public matching funds that could have doubled his war chest.
“I am very sad but even more angry at what has occurred,” Liu said after the sentencing of his former aides. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office was wrong and should not be proud of its conduct.”