A Las Vegas fraudster was sentenced Monday to four years behind bars after he allegedly ran a scam through phony PACs for Joe Biden and Donald Trump during the 2020 election.
James Kyle Bell, 44, allegedly raised at least $346,000 for the supposedly pro-Trump “Keep America Great” PAC and the purported Biden-backing “Best Days Lie Ahead” PAC — both groups which he registered with the Federal Election Commission, according to the Department of Justice.
The scam artist also allegedly took in over $1.1 million in fraudulent COVID-19 relief loans through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, authorities said.
“This prosecution is the first in the District of Columbia involving the creation of scam political action committees,” said Matthew Graves, US Attorney for the District of Columbia.
“It also is another in a series of prosecutions targeting frauds committed against the COVID relief efforts. The message is clear: along with our law enforcement partners, we will protect the public against fraudsters who seek to line their pockets by exploiting the political process and government programs.”
More than 2,000 people thought they were making political donations when they donated to the PACs and would have their contribution “5x matched,” authorities said. Bell had sent more than 4,000 fundraising solicitations as part of the scam, they said.
In four separate loan applications under the PPP program, Bell allegedly falsified that he had dozens of workers in company’s he controlled that had no employees and in some instances no operating licenses, authorities said. He made a fifth application but withdrew it before any money was paid to him, according to the release.
After pleading guilty in May to one count of wire fraud, federal agents seized $519,000 of the money he got through his scams. He will now have to pay restitution and a money judgment for a total payback of almost $1.4 million, according to the DOJ.