State representative charged with misusing campaign funds

BOSTON (AP) — A longtime Massachusetts state representative was charged Tuesday with using tens of thousands of dollars in campaign cash for golf club dues, casino trips and other personal expenses.

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David Nangle, a Democrat who sits on the House Committee on Ethics, faces federal charges including wire and bank fraud for spending more than $70,000 in campaign funds to bankroll his personal debts and sustain his gambling habit, authorities said.

“This was not a momentary lapse of judgement or a technical foul,” said Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling. “This was a systematic pattern of theft and fraud going back to at least 2014."

Nangle, who represents parts of Lowell and Chelmsford, was arrested Tuesday morning at his Lowell home, said FBI agent Joe Bonavolonta.

He pleaded not guilty later Tuesday and was released on a $25,000 unsecured bond.

Nangle's laywer, William Connolly, said in an email that his client “is a good man who has proudly served his district as a State Representative.” Nangle has served in the legislature for more than 20 years.

“The charges against David are nothing more than allegations," Connolly wrote. “We will fight these charges in court.”

Nangle, 59, was an extensive gambler who owed tens of thousands of dollars in debt, authorities said in court documents. Meanwhile, he managed to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for his campaigns even though he hasn't had an opponent since 2012, officials said.

Nangle used that cash to pay for golf club dues, rental cars to get to and from casinos, and flowers for his girlfriend, among other things, prosecutors said. He also used campaign funds to cover hotel and restaurant charges, some of which he was already being reimbursed for by the state, officials say.

Nangle owed tens of thousands of dollars in debt to several restaurant owners and then spent thousands of dollars of campaign cash at the owners' restaurants “as a means of appeasing his lenders," according to the indictment.

Lelling said Nangle deceived state officials of his illegal spending by using an acquaintance as a “straw campaign vendor,” who he paid to provide fake services to his campaigns.

Nangle is also accusing of lying to a bank to obtain more than $300,000 in loans, as well as filing false tax returns with fake deductions that allowed him to show no taxable income.

Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo said he was shocked to learn of Nangle's indictment, calling him a friend and colleague for more than 20 years. He said he never had an inkling that Nangle had a gambling problem.

“The allegations against Representative Nangle are serious and troubling and, if true, represent a significant betrayal of the public trust," DeLeo said in a statement.

DeLeo said the Massachusetts House received a subpoena from Lelling's office requesting records related to the federal grand jury investigation. He said the House cooperated with the subpoena and will continue to cooperate fully with investigators.