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Massachusetts lawmaker arrested on corruption charges involving misuse of campaign funds

Massachusetts State Rep. David Nangle, a Democrat, was arrested at his home in Lowell by agents from the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service
Credit: AP
This Sept. 20, 2019, photo shows Massachusetts State Rep. David Nangle in Lowell, Mass. Federal officials announced Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, that Nangle, a Democrat who represents parts of Chelmsford and Lowell, has been arrested and charged with using thousands of dollars in campaign cash to fund personal expenses. (The Lowell Sun via AP)

BOSTON —  A Massachusetts state lawmaker was arrested by federal agents early Tuesday on dozens of corruption charges, some of which involve an alleged misuse of campaign funds, the Boston division of the FBI announced.

Massachusetts State Rep. David Nangle, a Democrat, was arrested at his home in Lowell by agents from the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service, according to a tweet on Tuesday from the Boston FBI. In a newly unsealed indictment, officials describe a five-year scheme by the lawmaker to use campaign funds for a slew of personal expenses, including golf club fees and gambling activities.

"If the allegations in the indictment are true, it is safe to say that Rep. Nangle has violated the public trust and especially the trust of constituents who donated to his campaign fund," US Attorney Andrew Lelling said at a press conference later Tuesday.

"This was not a momentary lapse of judgment or a technical foul," he added, "This was a systematic pattern of theft and fraud going back to at least 2014."

CNN has reached out to Nangle for comment on the allegations.

Nangle, who has served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives since 1999, according to his official biography, represents a part of the state about 40 minutes northwest of Boston. He sits on both the House Committee on Ethics and the House Committee on Rules, as well as the Joint Committee on Rules.

The 28-count indictment alleges that between 2014 and 2019, Nangle, 59, treated a bank account holding campaign funds "as his own personal checking account to pay for various personal expenses and to withdraw cash, among other things."

Though he knew the funds were to be used for his campaign, the document alleges Nangle used the money to pay for "thousands of dollars in Lowell Golf Club dues and personal charges, rental cars to travel to casinos, flowers for his girlfriend, gas, hotel and restaurant charges" and gift cards "for his personal use," among other things.

To conceal the activities, the lawmaker "misled" his staff, and filed false campaign finance reports that "fraudulently described the purpose of such spending as political in nature," the indictment alleges.

The document described in detail how some of the funds were spent. In one example, Nangle allegedly used $836 to pay for membership dues to the golf club in 2017, but allegedly listed the expense on campaign finance documents as being for "Campaign Volunteers Appreciation." In another case, he allegedly used more than $300 in 2017 to rent a car for a personal trip to a casino, but reported the expense as being for a "Rental car while (his) car (was) being repaired."

In addition to illegally spending campaign funds, prosecutors said Nangle submitted materially false applications to a local bank to obtain more than $300,000 in bank loans. The loans were then used to "fund his gambling activities and to repay his personal debts," according to prosecutors.

Nangle also defrauded the IRS by misleading his tax preparer by "inflating different expenses ... and continuing to conceal income," the indictment alleges.

In one extraordinary move, prosecutors said that in 2018, Nangle paid someone to collect his $1,221 winning at a Connecticut casino to avoid having to report the win on tax forms. The conduct was captured on a surveillance camera at the casino, according to the indictment.

Officials said earlier Tuesday that they expected Nangle to appear in federal court later that day. If convicted, he could face between 20 and 30 years in prison for the wire and bank fraud charges, according to Lelling.

"Today's arrest should be a warning to others that corruption in any form at any level of government will not be tolerated," FBI Special Agent in Charge Joseph Bonavolonta said at the press conference.

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