- The Washington Times
Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A former wealth manager for crime writer Patricia Cornwell has managed to avoid prison for his role in covering up tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions from the novelist to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Evan H. Snapper received three years of probation at his sentencing last week in U.S. District Court in Washington after saying he made the contributions as an “ill-advised favor” to Ms. Cornwell.

In a separate civil court filing, Ms. Cornwell’s attorneys say she didn’t do anything wrong and was misinformed by Snapper, adding that she has had to spend lots of money to help the government during its investigation.

Federal prosecutors are saying little about the probe. While noting that Snapper cooperated in the investigation, the Justice Department won’t say how.

Prosecutors filed a heavily redacted sentencing memo in his case that provided few details about the source of the illegal contributions he helped conceal. Officials declined to elaborate on the filing Tuesday.

However, pleadings in an ongoing civil lawsuit by Ms. Cornwell against Snapper and the New York accounting and consulting firm he used to work for Anchin Block & Anchin LLP - make clear that the contributions came from her.

Under sentencing guidelines, Snapper had faced up to 16 months in prison.

Snapper used to manage the author’s finances, but Ms. Cornwell claims that after she sued him for mishandling her finances, Snapper in turn tried to get her in trouble over campaign donations. According to Ms. Cornwell’s lawsuit, Snapper handled her political contributions and “sought to falsely accuse” her of telling him to bundle illegal campaign cash for the Clinton campaign.

But Snapper’s criminal defense attorney, Evan Barr, in court papers called Snapper a “hardworking, respectable family man who has led a productive and law- abiding life.”

“Mr. Snapper committed the instant offense as an ill-advised favor to Patricia Cornwell, an important and powerful client of his firm,” he wrote in court pleadings.

After the sentencing, Mr. Barr said, “Mr. Snapper looks forward to moving on to the next chapter in his life.”
An attorney for Ms. Cornwell did not respond to phone and email messages Tuesday.

Mrs. Clinton now serves as secretary of state in the Obama administration.

Federal law makes it illegal for a single individual to donate more than $2,500 to a campaign, and in 2008, the limit was $2,300. No Clinton campaign officials were accused of taking part in the scheme involving Snapper.

Snapper pleaded guilty to helping funnel $48,300 in illegal campaign donations to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. Prosecutors say Snapper caused the Clinton campaign to “unwittingly” file false reports with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

In describing the case, federal prosecutors have said Snapper and 20 others agreed to buy tickets to an Elton John concert in April 2008 to raise money for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, with the understanding they all would be reimbursed by one of his clients - described as “Person A.” That person was Ms. Cornwell, according to filings in her civil case against Snapper.

A Justice Department spokeswoman on Tuesday declined to comment on why the department so heavily redacted the sentencing memo prosecutors filed in Snapper’s case.

Snapper also is expected to reach a settlement with the FEC. In court papers, his attorney said Snapper helped Ms. Cornwell donate to campaigns for former Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III, a Republican. The documents state that Ms. Cornwell wasn’t comfortable donating to Mr. Gilmore directly because of philosophical differences on gay marriage.

In 2007, Ms. Cornwell disclosed that she was married to another woman. Snapper and his wife gave more than $9,000 to Mr. Gilmore’s presidential and Senate campaigns, but later were reimbursed from an account belonging to Ms. Cornwell, according to his sentencing memo.

Anchin Block & Anchin was not charged in the investigation and has said it fully cooperated with authorities in the probe. The company previously said it “deeply regrets the events that occurred that led to this conclusion.”

• Jim McElhatton can be reached at jmcelhatton@washingtontimes.com.

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