California con man sentenced in fraud scheme targeting Democrat campaign donors

A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced California con man John Pierre Dupont to 3.5 years in prison for engaging in fraudulent solicitations purportedly in support of candidates such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and other high-profile Democrats, as Business Insider reports.

In handing down the multi-year punishment, however, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman noted that the 83-year-old Dupont, also known as John Gary Rinaldo,was being given a lighter sentence than he might otherwise receive, a fact attributable to his age and ill health.

The sentence stems from Dupont’s 2021 guilty plea to one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft in connection with his ongoing scheme to defraud thousands of donors by operating scam political action committees impersonating actual U.S. Senate candidates, the details of which were outlined by the Justice Department at the time.

Describing the octogenarian’s fraudulent conduct last summer, U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss explained, “In impersonating campaigns and candidates to raise money for fake political action committees, John Pierre Dupont took advantage of thousands of vulnerable individual donors who believed they were contributing to causes they believed in.”

“Instead, hundreds of thousands of dollars that were intended to be legitimate donations were instead stolen by the defendant for his own personal enrichment,” Strauss added.

In handing down Dupont’s sentence, Judge Berman noted that the scheme “[e]xpands several years. It used approximately 15 different websites. It defrauded thousands of people for a total of more than $250,000,” facts he characterized as “egregious.”

During Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Dupont reportedly declared his “deep remorse” and referenced the health woes from which he suffers, which he claims have caused him to contemplate the errors of his ways, presumably including reflection on his prior convictions on charges of bank fraud, mail, fraud, false impersonation, and other offenses.

“Many have noticed that, when faced with death, your mind focuses on your past, which for me means criminal activity, to which I have pleaded guilty,” Dupont explained.

Business Insider noted that the DOJ has already seized more than $250,000 from Berman, and his sentence of 42 months in prison is set to be followed by another 24 months of supervised release, providing at least some measure of justice for those who were scammed by Dupont’s deceitful ways.