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Hotel magnate, Democratic fundraiser pleads guilty

April 17, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — A hotel executive and Democratic fundraiser pleaded guilty Thursday to witness tampering and conspiracy to evade campaign finance laws.

Sant Singh Chatwal was accused of working with an unidentified informant to use straw donors to make contributions to three unnamed political candidates. He also was accused of trying to persuade a witness to not speak to the FBI.

Chatwal raised at least $100,000 for Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign against Barack Obama.

In November 2009, he was among the celebrities, major Democratic fundraisers and businessmen invited to Obama’s first state dinner.

He also was a guest at then-President Bill Clinton’s state dinner for India in 2000 and helped arrange an earthquake-relief visit by the former president to India in 2001.

On Thursday, a federal judge in Brooklyn read Chatwal details of the charges. When asked how he would plead, he responded, “I plead guilty sir.”

He faces up to five years, three months in prison at sentencing on July 31. He also must forfeit $1 million as part of a plea deal.

He was being freed on $750,000 bond.

Chatwal is the founder of Hampshire Hotels Management LLC. The company owns and manages hotels in New York, Miami, the United Kingdom, Thailand and India.

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