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OUSD board president to fight federal charges

Thaynewhipple
Thayne Whipple

 

Thayne Whipple of Ojai, president of the Ojai Unified School District Board of Education, and seven other people were charged Dec. 3, with conspiring to make and conceal conduit and excessive campaign contributions during the U.S. presidential election in 2016 and thereafter, according to a U.S. Justice Department press release on Dec. 3.

The indictment was unsealed on Dec. 3. Whipple’s name is mentioned on nine pages of the 64-page indictment and includes three counts against him — counts 20 and 30 are for Whipple allegedly making conduit contributions and aiding and abetting; count 52 is for alleged obstruction.
Whipple is described in the indictment as an outside contractor for “Company A,” which is Allied Wallet, an online payment company. The indictment can be read at:
The end of this article includes references to Whipple in the indictment.
Whipple wrote in an email to the Ojai Valley News early Dec. 4:
"The allegations came as a complete surprise to me. I have contributed to political candidates, nothing more and nothing less. I have to trust that as the facts are presented, my name will be cleared. I have not yet been provided with the details of why accusations have been made, but my perception is that the courts are being used for political reasons, and unfortunately I have become a victim of that."
On the afternoon of Dec. 4, Ojai Unified School District Superintendent Tiffany Morse stated in an email message to the Ojai Valley News that Whipple will continue to serve on the school board. She wrote: "We are aware of the allegations made against a member of our school board, and have been advised by our counsel that they have no effect on the operations of Ojai Unified School District. As our judicial system is based on the assumption of innocence, Trustee Whipple will continue in his normal duties as a member of the board at this time, with his term as Board President concluding as previously scheduled on December 13, 2019. Ojai Unified School District will continue to focus on serving and supporting our students."
The school board will hold its organizational meeting when new officers for the school board will be chosen, on Friday, Dec. 13, at 5:30 p.m. at a different location than usual: Matilija Auditorium, 703 El Paseo Road, Ojai.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant Director in Charge Timothy R. Slater of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement about the indictments Dec. 3.
In the press release from the U.S. Justice Department on Dec. 3, it was reported that a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia indicted Ahmad “Andy” Khawaja, 48, of Los Angeles on Nov. 7, along with Whipple, George Nader, Roy Boulos, Rudy Dekermenjian, Mohammad “Moe” Diab, Rani El-Saadi and Stevan Hill.
Khawaja is owner of an online processing company Allied Wallet. Whipple’s Linkedin account stated Dec. 3 that he was a senior consultant for Allied Wallet from January 2015 to December 2018. That information is no longer on his Linkedin account.
The 53-count indictment charges Khawaja with two counts of conspiracy, three counts of making conduit contributions, three counts of causing excessive contributions, 13 counts of making false statements, 13 counts of causing false records to be filed, and one count of obstruction of a federal grand jury investigation. 
Nader is charged with conspiring with Khawaja to make conduit campaign contributions, and related offenses. 
Whipple, Boulos, Dekermenjian, Diab, El-Saadi and Hill are charged with conspiring with Khawaja and each other to make conduit campaign contributions and conceal excessive contributions, and related offenses.
Whipple, Boulos, Diab and Hill are also charged with obstructing the grand jury’s investigation by allegedly lying to the FBI.
According to the indictment, from March 2016 through January 2017, Khawaja conspired with Nader to conceal the source of more than $3.5 million in campaign contributions, directed to political committees associated with a candidate for President of the United States in the 2016 election. By design, these contributions appeared to be in the names of Khawaja, his wife, and his company. In reality, they allegedly were funded by Nader. Khawaja and Nader allegedly made these contributions in an effort to gain influence with high-level political figures, including the candidate. As Khawaja and Nader arranged these payments, Nader allegedly reported to an official from a foreign government about his efforts to gain influence.
The indictment also alleges that, from March 2016 through 2018, Khawaja conspired with Whipple, Boulos, Dekermenjian, Diab, El-Saadi and Hill to conceal Khawaja’s excessive contributions, which totaled more than $1.8 million, to various political committees. Among other things, these contributions allegedly allowed Khawaja to host a private fundraiser for a presidential candidate in 2016 and a private fundraising dinner for an elected official in 2018.
The indictment further alleges that, from June 2019 through July 2019, Khawaja obstructed a grand jury investigation of this matter in the District of Columbia. Knowing that a witness had been called to testify before the grand jury, Khawaja allegedly provided that witness with false information about Nader and his connection to Khawaja’s company. 
Currently, Nader is in federal custody on other charges.

Page 30 of the indictment reads:

“Khawaja gives his co-conspirators money to contribute to his private fundraiser
“a. Khawaja arranged to host a private fundraiser for Candidate 1 in Las Vegas, Nevada in September 2016. In order to host the event, Khawaja was required to contribute $500,000 for Political Committee 1 and Political Committee 2. Due to his prior contributions and the contribution limits, Khawaja was not able to contribute the full amount in his name or his wife’s name. As a result, Khawaja provided the other co-conspirators with money to contribute to Political Committee 1 and Political Committee 2 in their names to meet the fundraising requirement for the event.”

 

References are made to Whipple on Page 32 of the indictment:
— “On or about Aug. 17, 2016, Khawaja wrote a $44,000 check to Whipple. On or about Sept. 8, 2016, Diab wrote a $50,000 check to Whipple at Khawaja’s direction. On or about Sept. 8, 2016, Whipple wrote a $100,000 check to Political Committee 2 in connection with the event to be hosted by Khawaja. The check falsely represented that it was a contribution from Whipple, when, it was, in fact, made with monies funneled to him by Khawaja for the purpose of making the contribution and to avoid and exceed the personal contribution limits set by federal law. This caused Political Committee 2 to unwittingly file a false report with the FEC stating that the contribution was from Whipple, when it was not.”

 

References are made to Whipple on Pages 32 and 33 of the indictment:
“On or about October 2, 2016, Khawaja wrote a $165,000 check to Diab. On or about October 7, 2016, Diab wrote a $50,000 check to Dekermenjian at Khawaja’s direction (and had previously written a $50,000 check to Whipple at Khawaja’s direction). … On or about October 12, 2016, Khawaja hosted an event for Candidate 1 in Las Vegas, Nevada, which was rescheduled from its original September 14 date. Boulos, Dekermenjian, Diab, El-Saadi, Hill, Nader, and Whipple attended the event long with Khawaja. Co-conspirator A did not attend the event.”

 

Pages 34 and 35 of the indictment continues from the above paragraph:

“Khawaja gives Hill, Whipple, Diab, and Boulos money to contribute
1. In or about March 2017, Khawaja caused the contribution of $250,000 to Political Committee 6 on behalf of himself and his wife. …
“n. On or about September 14, 2017, Whipple wrote a $100,000 check to Political Committee 6. The check falsely represented that it was a contribution from Whipple and his wife, when it was, in fact, made with monies to be funneled to him by Khawaja for the purpose of making the contribution and to avoid and exceed the personal contribution limits set by federal law. This caused Political Committee 6 to unwittingly file a false report with the FEC stating that the contribution was from Whipple and his wife when it was not. On or about October 13, 2017, Khawaja caused a company he controlled to write a $100,000 check to Whipple.”

 

On Page 42, in count 21, Whipple is alleged to have “willfully permitted his name to be used to effect contributions of another to Political Committee 2 and Political Committee 5, and willfully caused the same entities to unwittingly accept contributions made by one person in the name of another person, which aggregated $25,000 ad more in calendar year 2016.”

 

Page 43 of the indictment reads, in part:
Khawaja, “with the intent to impede, obstruct, and influence, and in relation to and contemplation of, the investigation and proper administration of matters within the jurisdiction of departments and agencies of the United States, knowingly concealed, covered up, falsified, and made a false entry in a record, document, and tangible object, to wit, causing Political Committee 2 to unwittingly, falsely record in a report to the Federal Election Commission dated October 15, 2016, that Khawaja, his wife, Diab, El-Saadi, Co-Conspirator A, Hill and Whipple contributed $970,000 when the contributions actually came from someone other than the reported contributors, which falsification the defendant (Khawaja) well knew and contemplated was related to the proper administration of Political Action 2’s required disclosures under the Election Act by the Federal Election Commission.”

 

Page 48 of the indictment lists count 30 against Whipple “making conduit contributions and aiding and abetting….
“In or about September 2017, in the District of Columbia and elsewhere, the defendant, Thayne Whipple, willfully permitted his name to be used to effect contributions of another to Political Committee 6, and willfully caused the entity to unwittingly accept contributions made by one person in the name of another person, which aggregated $25,000 and more in calendar year 2017.”

 

Page 49 of the indictment reads, in part:
“On or about September 18, 2017, in the District of Columbia and elsewhere, the defendant, “Ahmad ‘Andy’ Khawaja, knowingly and willfully, caused the submission of a material false, fictitious and fraudulent statement and representation in a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the government of the United States, to write, causing Political Committee 6 to unwittingly, falsely record in a report to the Federal Election Commission dated October 20, 2017, that Whipple and his wife contributed $100,000 when the contributions actually came from someone other than Whipple and his wife….

 

“On or about September 18, 2017, in the District of Columbia and elsewhere, the defendant, Ahmad ‘Andy’ Khawaja, with the intent to impede, obstruct, and influence, and in relation to and contemplation of, the investigation and proper administration of matters with in the jurisdiction of departments and agencies of the United States, knowingly concealed, covered up, falsified, and made a false entry in a record, document, and tangible object, to wit, causing Political Committee 6 to unwittingly, falsely record in a report to the Federal Election Commission dated October 20, 2017, that Whipple and his wife contributed $100,000 when the contributions actually came from someone other than Whipple and his wife, which falsification the defendant well knew and contemplated was related to the proper administration of Political Committee 6’s required disclosures under the Election Act by the Federal Election Commission.”

 

On page 62, in Count 52, it is stated in the indictment:
“On or about March 22, 2019, in the District of Columbia and elsewhere, the defendant,
Thayne Whipple, corruptly influence, obstructed, and impeded, and endeavored to influence, obstruct, and impede, the due administration of justice, to wit, a federal grand jury investigation pending in the District of Columbia. With knowledge that his statements would be transmitted to the grand jury in the District of Columbia, Whipple falsely told FBI agents that Whipple’s political contributions were made with his own money; that any checks he received from Khawaja in 2016 were in connection with work Whipple performed for Company A; and that Whipple was not reimbursed for the political contribution he made to Political Committee 2.”

An indictment is not a finding of guilt. It merely alleges that crimes have been committed. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
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