A hotel executive who has supported Hillary Clinton, Sen. Harry Reid and other top Democrats pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to witness tampering and conspiracy to evade campaign finance laws.
Sant Singh Chatwal, the CEO of Hampshire Hotels and Resorts and founder of the Bombay Palace restaurants, entered the plea in federal court in Brooklyn as part of a deal he reached with federal prosecutors.
Prosecutors said Chatwal used employees, business associates and contractors who worked for him to solicit campaign donations from straw donors, collect them and pay reimbursements. He arranged for more than $180,000 in contributions to three candidates for federal office between 2007 and 2011.
The candidates were not named; prosecutors said there was no indication they knew of the scheme.
Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, said Chatwal "sought to buy access to power through unlimited and illegal campaign contributions, funneling money from the shadows through straw donors."
Chatwal has raised at least $100,000 for Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign, and has given money to Reid, Mayor de Blasio and Rep. Joseph Crowley, among others, records show.
In November 2009, he was among the celebrities, major Democratic fundraisers and businessmen invited to Obama's first state dinner.
He also was a guest at then-President Bill Clinton's state dinner for India in 2000 and helped arrange an earthquake-relief visit by the former president to India in 2001.
A spokesman for Chatwal said he "deeply regrets his actions and accepts full responsibility for the consequences."
He faces up to 25 years in prison.
Copyright Associated Press / NBC New York