A former treasurer of the National Republican Congressional Committee pleaded guilty today in Washington federal district court to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the political committee and business clients.
Christopher Ward, a Maryland resident, worked in the NRCC's accounting department before he became treasurer in 2003, according to court records. Ward, prosecutors said in court papers, also ran an accounting and consultant business that specialized in compliance with Federal Election Commission regulations.
Prosecutors said Ward stole more than $844,000 from March 2001 to December 2007 by issuing unauthorized checks and wire transfers from the NRCC and political committees that were clients of his business.
“Christopher J. Ward was trusted to oversee other people’s money, and he violated that trust by diverting nearly $850,000 into his own pocket and creating fraudulent documentation to conceal the theft,” U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein of Maryland said in a statement. “Mr. Ward then caused false reports to be filed with the Federal Election Commission concerning the expenditure of the political contributions.”
Ward is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 2 before Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Prosecutors and Ward’s attorneys have agreed on a 37-month prison sentence, but Ward faces up to ten years in prison.
Ward’s attorney, Howard Shapiro, a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in Washington, was not immediately reached for comment today.
In April, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. designated the United States Attorney for the District of Maryland to prosecute the case following a recusal of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr., a former Wilmer partner himself, previously represented Ward in federal court in Washington in a forfeiture action that was filed in June 2008.
The government wants to seize Ward’s house in the 6300 block of Massachusetts Avenue in Bethesda, Md. The civil case is pending.