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Austinite facing federal charges for allegedly defrauding campaign donors

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., laughs as he arrives with his wife Jane Sanders, and his son Levi Sanders to a primary night rally in Essex Junction, Vt., Tuesday, March 1, 2016, on Super Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

An Austin man is accused of collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in the name of popular political candidates, but never giving them the money.

We spoke with the person who tipped the Federal Election Commission to the problem. This volunteer from the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign told us a Facebook ad led him to a questionable web site that claimed to support his candidate.

Back in 2016, Austin was “feeling the Bern.” But where candidates saw enthusiasm, others saw dollar signs and created PACs which were supposed to support the candidates, but allegedly didn't.

This week a federal grand jury here in Austin indicted Kyle Prall on 20 counts of fraud alleging he lured campaign donations into own web sites but ended up keeping most of the money. The indictment also alleges He filed false records to cover up the crime.

Jacob Limon was state campaign manager for Sanders in 2016. He's disappointed to hear of the indictment but hopes voters will continue to support their candidates. “I hope it doesn't dissuade people from giving to grassroots organizations and new grassroots organizations, because we did really well in 2018 and it was due to small efforts, small PACs," he said.

To avoid possible fraud his suggestion is to always look for a local connection in the PAC you're thinking of supporting. He explains, "If there's not somebody involved that you know, who stays regularly engaged with the grassroots community , I probably would ask a few more questions, check them out a little deeper."


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