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GOP Fund-raiser Given Jail Term

December 8, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ A Korean-American businessman was sentenced to five months in prison Thursday for trying to block an investigation into claims that campaign contributions to Gov. George Pataki bought freedom for a violent felon.

U.S. District Judge Frederic Block sentenced Yung Soo Yoo, a former Republican fund-raiser, to five months in a federal prison and five months of house arrest. Prosecutors said the case was ``the biggest fund-raising scandal this state has seen in a long time.″

Yoo, 64, of Glen Ridge, N.J., and three former parole officials have either been indicted or convicted of perjury and obstructing justice.

Investigators said they found no evidence Pataki knew about the scheme. No one linked to the governor has been convicted of violating fund-raising laws.

``Despite an obviously politically motivated prosecution, the final result is that everything we did was right and proper,″ Pataki spokesman Michael McKeon said Thursday.

At his trial in July, Yoo was accused of promising three families they could win clemency for their imprisoned children by contributing a total $40,000 to Pataki’s 1994 campaign for governor.

Yoo was convicted of trying to persuade one donor to help him mislead investigators. The jury deadlocked on conspiracy and corruption charges, and Block declared a mistrial on those counts. A new trial was scheduled for March.

Defense attorney Benjamin Brafman sought leniency for Yoo on grounds of his charitable work for Korean immigrants. Yoo asked the judge to ``take into consideration all the good I have done and find it in your heart not to send me to prison.″

Block said he might have spared Yoo prison if not for his 1984 conviction in Philadelphia for forging documents in a $4 million bank fraud case.

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