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Patricia Cornwell's Ex-Business Manager Pleads Guilty: Falsified Campaign Donations

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WASHINGTON — The former business manager for best-selling crime novelist Patricia Cornwell pleaded guilty Monday to lying about the source of 21 contributions of $2,300 apiece to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

Evan Snapper told a federal judge he had been aware that the 21 contributors did not ultimately make the donations in 2008, but instead they were reimbursed from an account belonging to someone identified in court papers as "Person A."

Snapper's lawyer declined to identify Person A, but Cornwell's attorneys issued a statement saying that "as this criminal charge confirms," Snapper had abused the trust that Cornwell placed in him to prudently and lawfully handle all her financial affairs, including political contributions.

In other words, Snapper used Cornwell's funds to make the reimbursements.

Widely quoted in the news media on tax issues, Snapper worked for New York accounting and wealth-management firm Anchin, Block & Anchin LLP, which serves privately held businesses and high-net-worth individuals.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court in Boston, Cornwell and her spouse, Staci Gruber, accuse Anchin and Snapper of mishandling the couple's finances. The couple sued for conversion, negligence and breach of contract.

According to Cornwell's lawsuit, Snapper once described the Anchin firm as doing "everything for its clients including buying and delivering their toilet paper." After 4 1/2 years in which Anchin controlled the business affairs and business investments of Cornwell, Cornwell and her company discovered that their net worth, while substantial, was equivalent to just one year's net income, despite the fact that Cornwell's annual earnings had been in eight figures during that time, the lawsuit stated.

Snapper, 46, of Fairfield, Conn., admitted that the reimbursements caused Clinton's presidential committee unwittingly to file false reports with the Federal Election Commission identifying the 21 donors as the contributors.

The charge to which Snapper pleaded guilty, making a false statement, carries a maximum five-year prison sentence, but if Snapper cooperates fully with federal prosecutors against others, he could be placed on probation by U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman.

In a statement, the Anchin firm said that on discovering Snapper's conduct, Anchin retained legal counsel and initiated its own internal investigation, then voluntarily reported the results of the investigation to the government.

The lawsuit against Anchin and Snapper says the firm violated legal requirements in handling Cornwell's political contributions, reimbursing its own employees improperly from the accounts of Cornwell and her company without Cornwell's knowledge.

The Anchin firm said it has been advised that no charges would be brought against it as a result of the Justice Department investigation. Cornwell voluntarily cooperated fully with the Justice Department in its investigation and she is grateful that the matter has been appropriately resolved, her lawyers said in their statement.

In her lawsuit, Cornwell said a quiet, uninterrupted environment, free of the distractions of managing her business and her assets, was essential to her ability to write and to meet her deadlines. She also said that her diagnosis with a mood disorder known as bipolar disorder has contributed to her belief that it is prudent for her to employ others to manage her business affairs and her investments.

Cornwell is best-known for a series of novels featuring medical examiner Kay Scarpetta.

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