The former treasurer of the National Republican Congressional Committee has pleaded guilty to embezzling $844,718 from various political committees, including his own.

Christopher J. Ward, 41, pleaded guilty Friday to interstate transportation of stolen property in connection with a scheme to defraud the NRCC and other political committees that were clients of his accounting and consulting business. The plea was taken by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who has scheduled sentencing for December 2.

The U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland was designated by the Attorney General to handle the case in April, following the recusal of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

“Christopher J. Ward was trusted to oversee other people’s money, and he violated that trust by diverting nearly $850,000 into his own pocket and creating fraudulent documentation to conceal the theft,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein in a statement. “Mr. Ward then caused false reports to be filed with the Federal Election Commission concerning the expenditure of the political contributions.”

According to the plea agreement, Ward worked in the NRCC’s accounting department and in 2003 became the NRCC’s treasurer. Ward also operated a business specializing in accounting services and compliance with Federal Election Commission regulations for political committees and candidates. From 2001 through 2006, he served as treasurer for the President’s Dinner Committees, which ran annual joint fundraising dinners sponsored by the NRCC and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, featuring a keynote address by President George W. Bush.

Ward admitted that from March 5, 2001, through December 2007, he stole approximately $844,718 by issuing unauthorized checks and wire transfers from the NRCC and political committees that were clients of his business, using the funds for his personal benefit. In some instances, Ward issued unauthorized checks and wire transfers from the NRCC to bank accounts for the President’s Dinner Committees, which Ward controlled, and he then transferred the funds to his personal bank accounts. In order to conceal the theft, Ward filed with the Federal Election Commission, and caused others to file, reports that contained false information at or near the times of the unauthorized payments.

Ward faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He has agreed with the government that a sentence of 37 months in prison would be an appropriate disposition of the case. As part of the plea agreement, Ward is also required to make restitution of $812,825 to his victims. Ward already had replaced $31,893 of the money he had stolen prior to being charged.

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