WASHINGTON — A Houma towing company owner was sentenced to one year of probation and a $5,000 fine for making false statements in order to hide efforts to funnel thousands of dollars into the political campaigns of Louisiana’s U.S. senators.
Arlen Cenac Jr., 57, was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier for lying to the Federal Election Commission after previously pleading guilty. In addition to the probation and fine, there also was a $100 “special assessment” charged to Cenac for making false statements.
In 2008, Cenac had submitted cashier’s checks in the names of people other than himself that were donated to the campaigns of Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and David Vitter, R-La.
Cenac acted without the knowledge or permission of the people whose names he was using, according to federal court documents.
The case was investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The case was prosecuted by Justice Department trial attorney Tracee Plowell and Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Friel.
Cenac’s actions violated the Federal Election Act of 1971, which limits the amount of money that can be contributed to a candidate for federal office and prohibits a donor from contributing in the name of another person. Federal law limits a person to donating a total of $4,600 to a candidate for federal office in primary and general elections, according to federal law.
Although the politicians involved were Landrieu and Vitter, the federal bill of information noted specifically that they did nothing wrong and were not aware of the falsifications.
Cenac agreed in August to a $170,000 settlement with the FEC for donating $15,000 to Vitter’s campaign in the name of others in February 2008 and $25,300 to the campaign of Landrieu in the name of others in May 2008.
The checks attracted suspicion because they were received as “sequentially numbered checks from the same bank,” according to the FEC.
Vitter’s press office previously stated that the senator has already donated the $15,000 to charity — $7,500 to Angels Place and $7,500 to the Cancer Association of Greater New Orleans.
The Landrieu campaign’s attorney, Marc Elias, of Washington, D.C., has said that the money was turned over to the U.S. Treasury as soon as the senator was informed that the contributions were problematic.