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Bera’s father sentenced to prison for funneling money to his son’s campaigns

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Babulal Bera, the father of Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove), leaves the federal courthouse with attorney Edward Loya Jr., right, on May 10 in Sacramento.

Babulal Bera, the father of Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove), leaves the federal courthouse with attorney Edward Loya Jr., right, on May 10 in Sacramento.

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Babulal Bera, a retired chemical engineer who emigrated from India and watched his oldest son win election to the U.S. House of Representatives, was sentenced Thursday to a federal prison term of one year and one day for organizing a money-laundering scheme that helped fund two of his son’s campaigns.

Defense attorneys for the 83-year-old man argued the sentence was too severe, but U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley disagreed, calling it an appropriate punishment.

“The defendant’s efforts were calculated,” the judge said during the sentencing hearing in Sacramento. “This is more than just a naive person who doesn’t know how elections work.”

Rep. Ami Bera was not in the courtroom to witness his father convicted of two counts of of federal campaign finance violations. The two-term democrat from Elk Grove denied knowing anything about the scheme and has expressed disappointment in his father’s actions.

“This is one of the most difficult moments my family has ever experienced,” Bera, who is currently seeking re-election, said in a written statement. “Of course I’m absolutely devastated and heartbroken for how today’s decision will impact our entire family. But my father’s accepted what he did was wrong, he’s taken responsibility and I love him more than words can express.”

Earlier at the DNC Bera provided an exclusive interview to Diya TV and discussed his father’s impending sentencing.

The elder Bera provided no comment to reporters as he exited the courthouse in downtown Sacramento. Although he had previously used the services of an interpreter in the courtroom, Thursday Bera addressed the judge himself in English. “No one else knows my wife like I do. She means everything to me,” he said shaking his head as he pleaded with the court to allow him to remain by her side. “I cannot live without her, and she cannot live without me.”

The sentence rendered was much lighter than what federal regulations normally call for — three years — but did include a fine of $100,200. He can become eligible for release after 10 months, and must surrender himself to federal authorities within 90 days to begin serving his time.

Defense attorneys asked the judge to take into consideration the ages of him and his wife, describing the marriage between the two as “a deeply intertwined dependency between a married couple in their twilight years.”

While Judge Nunley acknowledged Bera’s age would make a prison term more difficult to serve, she also said the sentence addressed the severity of his actions and was sufficiently serious to deter others from committing similar crimes.

Prosecutors opined that Bera engaged in an elaborate operation of soliciting donations from friends and family for his son’s first two congressional campaigns in 2010 and 2012. In all, prosecutors said they were able to track at least $260,000 in illegal contributions funneled through donors but secretly paid by the elder Bera through multiple bank accounts used to further cover his tracks.

Bera has remained a primary target of Republicans in one of California’s swing districts, having narrowly won re-election in 2014. His challenger in November’s general election, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, is seeking to link the congressman to his father’s money laundering conviction. On Tuesday, Jones proposed tightening federal campaign finance laws to make it harder for money to be funneled from one donor to another.

“More has to be done to root corruption out of politics and expose conflicts,” Jones said in a statement.

Prosecutors immediately dismissed the idea that the elder Bera got caught up in the excitement of helping his son achieve a longtime dream.

“He carried on these acts month after month, year after year, and over the course of two campaigns,” they wrote in court documents. “He cannot explain away his actions as the result of runaway emotions.”

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FTX’s Nishad Singh got $543 million loan

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More fallout from the FTX cryptocurrency platform collapse. Court documents show its affiliate Alameda Research loaned executives like Sam Bankman Fried $1 billion and more than $500 million to Indian American Nishad Singh, FTX’s top engineer. FTX’s interim CEO says never in his career has he seen such complete failure of corporate controls and a complete absence of trustworthy financial information. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after it was unable to come up with customer funds.

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Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Arvind Venkat & Tarik Khan win Pennsylvania State seats

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WASHINGTON D.C. (Diya TV) – Looking back at the midterm elections, Arvind Venkat and Tarik Khan made history as the first South Asian Americans elected to the Pennsylvania State Legislature. Advocacy group Indian American Impact played a major role on the ground, saying it trained and mobilized 200 volunteers to go door-to-door, to engage voters and provide info they needed to elect new leadership.

After 35 years, the Nancy Pelosi era is officially coming to an end. The speaker from San Francisco announced she’s bowing out of leadership, but will retain her House seat. The midterms cost Pelosi’s Democratic party the House and effectively ended her speakership.

Two former Indian American executives at Meta Platforms will launch a new non fungible token start up for creators. Kirthiga Reddy and Saurabh Doshi have raised more than $8 million for their new company called Virtualness. But they are facing headwinds as the FTX cryptocurrency exchange collapse is putting pressure on the entire industry.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Meet FTX insider Nishad Singh

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) – The controversy around failed cryptocurrency exchange FTX continues to captivate the world. Part of the scrutiny is now on the people involved, including Indian American Nishad Singh. According to new reports, this techie was part of FTX’s inner circle, which lived together and ran the cryptocurrency empire from the Bahamas. The software engineer was also reportedly aware that FTX secretly transferred customer funds worth billions of dollars to its sister firm Alameda Research. Currently, no one is facing any criminal charges. Diya TV featured Singh more than a decade ago for running ultra marathons as a 17 year old getting ready for college. 

Former President Donald Trump has officially announced he is running for president in 2024, marking his third bid for the White House. Trump had been hinting at this announcement for months, as the embattled former president faces multiple criminal and civil litigations and as his party is grappling with a worse than expected showing in the midterm elections. 

At the G20 Summit in Bali, world leaders including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden are coming together to condemn the rising threat of nuclear weapons as Russia’s war against Ukraine continues to raise tension and anxiety around the world.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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