New York: Conservative Indian-American author and Obama-critic Dinesh D'Souza, who pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign laws, should be jailed up to 16 months as he committed a "serious" crime that "strikes at the heart" of the US election system, Manhattan's top federal prosecutor Preet Bharara said.
D'Souza, 53, will be sentenced on September 23 on charges of making USD 20,000 in illegal campaign contributions to the senate campaign of Republican Wendy Long Long in 2012 and for making false statements to the Federal Election Commission in connection with the illegal contributions.
In a sentencing memorandum submitted in the court, India- born Bharara said D'Souza should be sentenced jailed to 10-16 months in prison as this range is "sufficient but not greater than necessary to serve the legitimate purposes of sentencing, especially in light of the seriousness of the offense, the defendant's post-plea failure to accept responsibility for his criminal conduct, the need for general deterrence and the need to avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities."
D'Souza, a Mumbai-native, had changed his plea to guilty in May this year to charges brought by Bharara that he made two close associates contribute USD 10,000 each to Long's senate campaign with the understanding that he would reimburse them for their contributions.
D'Souza admitted that he knew what he was doing was wrong and forbidden by law.
D'Souza had last week asked a judge to sentence him to probation and not send him to jail since he is not a danger to the community and there is "zero chance" he would repeat such a behaviour.
He described himself as a "disgraced and humiliated" man who could "never have envisioned the situation in which he now finds himself."
Bharara asked the judge to reject D'Souza's plea for a non-custodial sentence and the argument that he "unequivocally accepted responsibility" for his crime.
The federal prosecutor said D'Souza changed his plea to guilty "at the last possible moment before trial began not because he actually accepted responsibility for his conduct but because he was in fact guilty and had no defense or excuse for his criminal conduct."
He said D'Souza's "crime is serious and strikes at the heart of our federal election system...His educational and work history actually aggravate his illegal conduct as he is a sophisticated individual who rather than follow the law, chose in his own words, to take a short cut."
Bharara highlighted in his memorandum that D'Souza made public statements after his plea that he was being "selectively prosecuted". He insisted that 10-16 months sentence is necessary to deter others from abusing the election process, including "well-heeled individuals who are tempted to use their money to help other candidates."
D'Souza, a best-selling author, had come in for severe criticism for his 2012 documentary '2016: Obama's America', with the Obama campaign accusing him of launching a smear campaign against the President and alleging that the movie was a deliberate distortion of Obama's record and world view.
The documentary had equated reelection of Barack Obama with the death and dismemberment of the US.