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N.J. Man Illegally Gave to Clinton

October 5, 1999

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ A New Jersey businessman pleaded guilty Tuesday to funneling $32,000 in illegal donations to the 1996 campaigns of President Clinton and Sen. Robert Torricelli.

Lawrence Penna is the second person to admit wrongdoing in the funding for Torricelli, a Democrat. In May, Berek Paul Don, the onetime Republican leader in Torricelli’s base of Bergen County, pleaded guilty to illegally funneling $11,000.

A third man, Mark Jimenez of Miami, fled the country last year after being accused of making $40,000 in illegal contributions to Clinton, Torricelli and other Democratic candidates.

Torricelli lawyer Abbe Lowell said ``it is not surprising that a handful of people would violate the rules,″ noting that Torricelli’s 1996 campaign raised more than $10 million from 20,000 individuals.

``There’s no allegation that anyone at the campaign knew of this or solicited this,″ said Lowell, who served as chief Democratic counsel in Clinton’s impeachment hearings.

The money donated by Don and Penna will be given to charity, Lowell said.

Penna, president of the now-defunct Investors Associates Inc. securities firm in Hackensack, admitted conspiring to reimburse employees for $12,000 in illegal donations to Clinton and about $20,000 to the Torricelli campaign.

He also pleaded guilty to stock fraud, admitting his firm illegally made $33 million by manipulating initial public offerings of five stocks.

He faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines, but sentencing guidelines call for less-severe penalties.

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