Menendez donor Bigica pleads guilty to FECA violation

A Bergen County man admitted today to conspiring with his brother to violate federal election law in connection with contributions to a federal campaign committee, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Benedetto Bigica, 45, of Elmwood Park, N.J., pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with one count of conspiring to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA).

Bigica entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Faith S. Hochberg in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court: From April 2005 to April 2008, Bigica conspired with his brother, Joseph Bigica, and others to make $21,400 in illegal contributions to the campaign committee of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

Benedetto Bigica agreed to serve as a straw contributor along with two other family members for Joseph Bigica, who then reimbursed them for their contributions to the campaign.

Joseph Bigica previously pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with one count of corruptly interfering with the due administration of the internal revenue laws and one count of conspiring to violate the FECA. On Dec. 11, 2012, Judge Hochberg sentenced Joseph Bigica to 36 months on the tax count and 60 months on the FECA conspiracy, to be served concurrently, and ordered $2,141,836 in restitution. No one associated with the Menendez Campaign has been accused of any wrongdoing.

The conspiracy charge to which Benedetto Bigica pleaded is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is currently scheduled for May 7, 2013.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge David Velazquez in Newark; special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen, and criminal investigators from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zahid N. Quraishi and Amy Luria of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.

"The governor still has to come to bat."
—Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson, on Atlantic City.