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Ex-NRCC Treasurer Gets 3 Years For Party Theft

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The former treasurer of a Republican Party committee was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison for stealing political funds, including money from annual fundraising dinners headlined by President George W. Bush.

Christopher J. Ward was sentenced to 37 months imprisonment and ordered to pay back $844,000 he embezzled from several political committees.

Most of the money came from the National Republican Congressional Committee, where he was treasurer from 2003 to 2007.

The 42-year-old admitted in a guilty plea that he transferred money to his personal account from an account for the annual presidential fundraising dinners the NRCC held to raise money for congressional candidates. His attorneys said Ward was able to steal the money because he had check-writing authority for the NRCC and little oversight.

Ward also admitted stealing $41,000 from a political committee associated with Republican Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno and $28,000 from a committee for former Rep. Jerry Weller, R-Ill., among others.

 The judge could have given Ward up to 10 years in prison. Ward and prosecutors agreed that the 37-month sentence was appropriate for his crime; prosecutors said such a sentence would credit Ward for cooperating with the investigation after his theft was discovered.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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