The former owner of a Brunswick hotel was arrested Tuesday for allegedly using campaign funds from his 2018 bid to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives to pay off debt from his hotel business.
Abhijit “Beej” Das of North Andover, Massachusetts, faces charges of accepting excessive campaign contributions, conduit contributions, conversion of campaign funds, engaging in a scheme to falsify, conceal and cover up material facts and making false statements, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston.
Das pleaded not guilty to all counts and was released on bail, according to The Times Record.
In December 2017, when Das was running for Massachusetts’ 3rd Congressional District, he “devised a scheme” to solicit illegal amounts of personal loans from friends and close contacts, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. This money would be transferred into his campaign account.
Between January and May 2018, Das allegedly used at least $267,000 of campaign funds to minimize debt for The Daniel hotel, paying off vendors, the hotel’s yacht and real estate taxes unrelated to the campaign.
When he withdrew the funds — a total of $314,500 — Das allegedly tried to hide the transfer by instructing bank tellers to report the withdrawals as separate deposit and withdrawal transactions, instead of direct transfers.
A former Hilton Hotels executive in India, Das acquired the historic Captain Daniel Stone Inn in 2013 when he served as president and chief executive officer of Boston East India Hotels. After a multi-million dollar renovation, Das announced in February 2020 that he planned to sell the hotel for about $3 million, citing financial and operational struggles, The Times Record reported.
The indictment also alleges that Das “caused” three people to contribute about $125,000 to his campaign, structuring the contributions as personal loans to a family member to avoid the Federal Election Commission reporting requirement and contribution limit.
He allegedly concealed the contributions from the commission, falsely claimed that the excess money was from his personal funds and “engaged in illegal conduit contributions to his campaign.”
Das also overstated the amount of cash on hand for his congressional campaign in quarterly reports to the elections commission, aiding and abetting in the submission of false information, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. For example, in June 2018, Das reported that he had $440,000 cash on hand when he actually had less than $5,000.
“We believe Mr. Das engineered this calculated scheme to show he was a viable candidate for office, at the expense of voters and the election process,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation field office in Boston.
Das came in seventh place in the 2018 Democratic primary for Massachusetts’ 3rd Congressional District, earning just 1,492 votes.
“I would like to ask that you do not jump to any conclusions based solely upon the allegations,” Neil Faigel, his attorney, told The Times Record. “Time and again, cases that have a political component are inherently complicated. At this time, and at this juncture, it would be premature to comment further.”
Each charge carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater.