03/09/98- Updated 09:24 PM ET|
Kim sentenced in fund-raising scandal
LOS ANGELES - Rep. Jay Kim was sentenced Monday to two months home confinement under electronic monitoring for accepting and hiding illegal political contributions in what prosecutors called the largest case of campaign finance violations in U.S. history.
The three-term Republican lawmaker, who could have faced up to six months in jail for his guilty plea on misdemeanor charges, also was sentenced to one year probation, 200 hours of community service and a $5,000 fine.
"Thank God it's over," Kim said in a written statement, in which he apologized to his family, friends, voters and the judge. "I am truly sorry for my mistakes. All I can ask is for forgiveness."
The campaign committee for Kim, who is running for reelection despite the conviction and sentence, was ordered to pay a $170,000 fine and placed on five years probation. Under law, an organization, like an individual, can be convicted of criminal charges.
Kim's wife, June Oak Kim, who also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges, was sentenced to one year probation, fined $5,000 and given 250 hours community service. She, too, made a brief statement, telling the court in a soft, trembling voice, "I'm very sorry, really sorry, for what has happened."
Federal Judge Richard A. Paez didn't explain in detail how Kim's home detention program would work, except to say the lawmaker could continue his "work duties" while under "electronic monitoring."
The sentences capped the dramatic downward spiral for the Diamond Bar congressman, whose district east of Los Angeles includes parts of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties.
Kim became the first Korean American congressman when he was elected in 1992, but he quickly was faced with allegations of campaign wrongdoing.
The Kims, who live in Diamond Bar about 30 miles east of Los Angeles, entered guilty pleas Aug. 11 to misdemeanor charges of accepting and hiding $230,000 in contributions.
Kim acknowledged accepting a $50,000 loan from a Taiwanese citizen that was later used in his election campaign, and admitted he contributed $83,248 from his engineering firm to his campaign. It is illegal for candidates to take money from foreign contributors or companies.
Kim did not comment after the sentencing. But in his written statement, he said that while "I was in serious error," there are worse kinds of wrongdoing.
"I want the citizens in my district to know that this is NOT a case involving the misuse of public tax dollars, bribery, graft, threats, public corruption, vote buying, foreign influence, influence peddling or foreign agents," the statement said.
Federal prosecutor Stephen Mansfield, calling this the largest case of campaign violations in U.S. history, sought a jail sentence for Kim, both to punish Kim and to deter others.
In his bid for a fourth term, Kim is running into resistance at home and in Washington. He faces his toughest GOP primary fight since he was elected, and in Washington, GOP colleagues have been suggesting he resign his seat.
Kim also is under investigation by the House ethics committee.
If the House determines that the congressman violated ethical standards, it could take action ranging from a letter of rebuke to expulsion, which has occurred only once in this century.
By The Associated Press
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