Ex-fund-raiser for Townsend is arrested

October 09, 2002|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

A North Carolina Democratic Party activist who raised money for Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in 1999 was arrested last week in Southern California and charged with $3.6 million in fraud after disappearing 17 months ago.

Andrew Reyes - former chairman of the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party - brought Townsend to a Charlotte rally in September 1999 and helped deliver $40,000 in contributions to her campaign.

Her campaign later returned $12,000 of those contributions because it appeared that several companies owned by Reyes had each made $4,000 contributions - a possible violation of Maryland laws. Others who made the maximum legal $4,000 contributions to Townsend included assistants at his companies and his long-time companion. The campaign also kept a $4,000 individual contribution made by Reyes.

Reyes disappeared from Charlotte in May last year. Federal authorities then found $3.6 million in funds they believe he diverted from a company and its owners into his personal accounts, according to an indictment filed by the U.S. attorney's office in North Carolina.

Reyes had been hired to provide accounting services to the company, and the indictment alleges he made 15 fraudulent deposits between March 1998 and March 2000. He was arrested Oct. 3 after crossing into the United States from Mexico and is being held while waiting extradition to North Carolina.

A spokesman for the Townsend campaign yesterday said they were still looking for more information on the allegations against Reyes.

"We erred on the side of caution in returning contributions that we thought might be considered inappropriate," said spokesman Peter Hamm. "If it's appropriate to do so, there's an outstanding personal contribution from him that we'll consider returning as well."

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