BOSTON (CBS) – FBI and IRS special agents arrested Massachusetts State Rep. David Nangle at his home Tuesday morning on more than two dozen charges, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling announced. The Lowell Democrat is accused of stealing over $70,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, defrauding a local bank in order to cover his extensive gambling debts, and tax fraud.
The 59-year-old Nangle has served in the House since 1999, representing the 17th Middlesex District. He’s Second Division Chair in House Leadership and is a member of the ethics and rules committees. He pleaded not guilty to 28 counts in federal court and refused to answer questions from reporters after being released.
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“Corruption can be easy and tempting for state-level elected officials, but here Rep. Nangle went beyond that,” Lelling said in a news conference. “This was not a momentary lapse of judgment or a technical foul. This was a systematic pattern of theft and fraud going back to at least 2014.”
According to an indictment, Nangle has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds even though he’s been running unopposed for re-election since 2013, “which further allowed him to use campaign funds to supplement his personal finances.” Prosecutors allege that he spent tens of thousands of dollars at New England casinos and on internet gambling sites.
“Nangle was heavily in debt, had poor credit, and had regular cash flow problems as a result of extensive gambling at various casinos,” the indictment against Nangle states. “To sustain his gambling activities and keep himself afloat financially, defendant Nangle illicitly used campaign funds to, among other things, pay for personal expenses, defraud his bank lender, and collect income that he failed to report to the Internal Revenue Service.”
Nangle allegedly used campaign funds to pay for thousands of dollars in Lowell Golf Club dues, rental cars to drive to casinos, flowers for his girlfriend and restaurant bills.
“As then-chairman of the House Committee on Ethics, there is no question he knew what he was doing was wrong, as illustrated by the great lengths he went to try to cover it up,” FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Joseph Bonavolonta said at a news conference. “For example, he allegedly misled his staff and campaign treasurer into filing false campaign reports, even claiming on one occasion that a car he rented to drive to a casino was for travel to the statehouse while his vehicle was in the shop for repairs.”
He added, “Simply put, Representative Nangle used the power of his position on Beacon Hill to fund a lifestyle out of his reach.”
Prosecutors said Nangle owed nearly $100,000 to restaurant owners from whom he borrowed money in Dracut, Salisbury and Lowell. He also allegedly never paid a contractor for thousands of dollars in work done at his home, but “the contractor was awarded lucrative bids for construction projects for which Nangle had secured state funding.”
To secure access to more personal funding, Lelling said Nangle also lied on four bank loan applications at a Lowell bank. He managed to get more than $300,000 in loans through fraud, Lelling said.
On the tax fraud charges, Lelling said Nangle filed false tax returns for years, using fake deductions that allowed him to show no taxable income.
“He ultimately defrauded the IRS of tens of thousands of dollars in tax revenue,” Lelling said.
Some of the deductions included inflated mileage and commuting expenses related to his job as a state representative, and fake charitable donations, Lelling said.
Nangle could face decades in prison and fines of more than $1 million if convicted. He must surrender his passport, can only travel to New Hampshire and is banned from gambling while on pre-trial release.
His lawyer said in a statement: “Dave Nangle is a good man who has proudly represented his district as a State Representative. The charges in this case are nothing more than allegations. We will fight the charges in court.”