List of American federal politicians convicted of crimes

Last updated on 14 October 2017

This list consists of American politicians convicted of crimes either committed or prosecuted while holding office in the federal government. It includes politicians who were convicted or pleaded guilty in a court of law; and does not include politicians involved in unprosecuted scandals (which may or may not have been illegal in nature), or politicians who have only been arrested or indicted. The list also does not include crimes which occur outside the politician’s tenure unless they specifically stem from acts while they were in office.

Although the convicted politicians are arranged by presidential terms starting with the most recent, many of the crimes have little or no connection to who is President. Since the passage of Twentieth Amendment to the United States Constitution on January 23, 1933, presidential terms have begun on January 20 of the year following the presidential election; prior to that, they began on March 4.

2017–Present (Donald J. Trump (R) presidency)

Legislative branch

  • Corrine Brown (D-FL) was convicted on 18 felony counts of wire and tax fraud, conspiracy, lying to federal investigators, and other corruption charges. (2017)[1]
  • Greg Gianforte (R-MT) pled guilty to charge of assault. (2017)[2][3]

2009–2017 (Barack Obama (D) presidency)

Executive branch

Legislative branch

  • Chaka Fattah (D-PA) was convicted on 23 counts of racketeering, fraud, and other corruption charges. (2016)[6]
  • Dennis Hastert (R-IL) Speaker of the United States House of Representatives pleaded guilty in court for illegally structuring bank transactions related to payment of $3.5 million to quash allegations of sexual misconduct with a student when he was a high school teacher and coach decades ago.[7] (2016)
  • Michael Grimm (R-NY) pleaded guilty of felony tax evasion. This was the fourth count in a 20-count indictment brought against him for improper use of campaign funds. The guilty plea had a maximum sentence of three years; he was sentenced to eight months in prison. (2015)[8][9]
  • Trey Radel (R-FL) was convicted of possession of cocaine in November 2013. As a first-time offender, he was sentenced to one year probation and fined $250. Radel announced he would take a leave of absence, but did not resign. Later, under pressure from a number of Republican leaders, he announced through a spokesperson that he would resign. (2013)[10][11][12]
  • Rick Renzi (R-AZ) was found guilty on 17 of 32 counts against him June 12, 2013, including wire fraud, conspiracy, extortion, racketeering, money laundering and making false statements to insurance regulators. (2013)[13]
  • Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) pleaded guilty February 20, 2013, to one count of wire and mail fraud in connection with his misuse of $750,000 in campaign funds. Jackson was sentenced to two and one-half years' imprisonment. (2013)[14]
  • Laura Richardson (D-CA) was found guilty on seven counts of violating US House rules by improperly using her staff to campaign for her, destroying the evidence and tampering with witness testimony. The House Ethics Committee ordered Richardson to pay a fine of $10,000. (2012)[15][16]

Judicial branch

  • Mark E. Fuller (R) U.S. District Judge was found guilty of domestic violence and sentenced to 24 weeks of family and domestic training and forced to resign his position. (2015)[17][18][19]

2001–2009 (George W. Bush (R) presidency)

Executive branch

  • Scott Bloch (R) United States Special Counsel. pleaded guilty to criminal contempt of Congress for "willfully and unlawfully withholding pertinent information from a House Committee investigating his decision to have several government computers wiped ..."[20][21] On June 24, 2013, U. S. District Judge Robert L. Wilkins sentenced Bloch to one day in jail and two years' probation, and also ordered him to pay a $5000 fine and perform 200 hours of community service.(2010) [22]
  • David Safavian (R) Administrator for the Office of Management and Budget[23] where he set purchasing policy for the entire government.[24][25] He was found guilty of blocking justice and lying,[26] and sentenced to 18 months. (2008)[27][28]
  • Lewis Libby (R) Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney (R). 'Scooter' was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the Plame Affair on March 6, 2007 and was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $250,000. His sentence was commuted by George W. Bush (R) on July 1, 2007. (2007)[29]
  • Lester Crawford (R) Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, resigned after 2 months. Pleaded guilty to conflict of interest and received 3 years suspended sentence and fined $90,000. (2006) [30]
  • Claude Allen (R) Director of the Domestic Policy Council, was arrested for a series of felony thefts in retail stores. (2006) He was convicted on one count and resigned soon after.[31]

Legislative branch

  • William J. Jefferson (D-LA) was charged in August 2005 after the FBI seized $90,000 in cash from his home freezer. He was re-elected to the House in 2006, but lost in 2008. He was convicted November 13, 2009, of 11 counts of bribery and sentenced to 13 years in prison. (2009)[32] Jefferson's Chief of Staff Brett Pfeffer, was sentenced to 84 months for bribery. (2006) [33]
  • Jack Abramoff CNMI scandal involves the efforts of Abramoff to influence Congressional action concerning U.S. immigration and minimum wage laws. See Executive branch convictions. Congressmen convicted in the Abramoff scandal include:
  1. Bob Ney (R-OH) pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making false statements as a result of his receiving trips from Abramoff in exchange for legislative favors. Ney received 30 months in prison. (2007)[34]
  • Duke Cunningham (R-CA) pleaded guilty November 28, 2005, to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion in what came to be called the Cunningham scandal and was sentenced to over eight years in prison. (2005)[35]
  • Frank Ballance (D-NC) admitted to federal charges of money laundering and mail fraud in October 2005 and was sentenced to four years in prison. (2005)[36]
  • Bill Janklow (R-SD) was convicted of second-degree manslaughter for running a stop sign and killing a motorcyclist. Resigned from the House and given 100 days in the county jail and three years probation. (2003)[37]
  • Jim Traficant (D-OH) was found guilty on ten felony counts of financial corruption, sentenced to eight years in prison and expelled from the House of Representatives. (2002) [38]

1993–2001 (Bill Clinton (D) presidency)

Executive branch

Legislative branch

  • Mel Reynolds (D-IL) was convicted on 12 counts of sexual assault, obstruction of justice and solicitation of child pornography. (1997) He was later convicted of 12 counts of bank fraud. (1999) Reynolds served his entire sentence stemming from the first conviction and served 42 months in prison for the bank fraud conviction at which point his sentence was commuted by President Bill Clinton.[45] As a result, Reynolds was released from prison and served his remaining time in a halfway house.[46][47]
  • Bob Packwood (R-OR), 19 women accused him of sexual misconduct. He fought the allegations, but eventually, the US Senate Ethics Committee found him guilty of a "pattern of abuse of his position of power and authority” and recommended that he be expelled from the Senate. He resigned on Sept. 7, 1995.[48]
  • Wes Cooley (R-OR), was convicted of having lied on the 1994 voter information pamphlet about his service in the Army. He was fined and sentenced to two years probation (1997)[49] After leaving office, Cooley was convicted of income tax fraud connected to an investment scheme. He was sentenced to one year in prison and to pay restitution of $3.5 million to investors and $138,000 to the IRS.[50]
  • Austin Murphy (D-PA) was convicted of one count of voter fraud for filling out absentee ballots for members of a nursing home. (1999) [51]
  • House banking scandal [52] The House of Representatives Bank found that 450 members had overdrawn their checking accounts, but not been penalized. Six were convicted of charges, most only tangentially related to the House Bank itself. Twenty two more of the most prolific over-drafters were singled out by the House Ethics Committee. (1992)
  1. Buz Lukens (R-Ohio) convicted of bribery and conspiracy.[53]
  2. Carl C. Perkins (D-Kentucky) pleaded guilty to a check kiting scheme involving several financial institutions (including the House Bank).[54]
  3. Carroll Hubbard (D-Kentucky) was convicted of illegally funneling money to his wife's 1992 campaign to succeed him in congress.[55]
  4. Mary Rose Oakar (D-Ohio) pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor campaign finance charge not related to the House Bank.[56]
  5. Walter Fauntroy (D-District of Columbia) was convicted of filing false disclosure forms to hide unauthorized income.[57]
  1. Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL) was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison, in 1995.[59]
  2. Joe Kolter (D-Pennsylvania) pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and sentenced to 6 months in prison.(1996)[60][61]

1989–1993 (George H. W. Bush (R) presidency)

Executive branch

Legislative branch

  • Nicholas Mavroules (D-Massachusetts) was convicted of extortion, accepting illegal gifts and failing to report them on congressional disclosure and income tax forms. Mavroules pleaded guilty to fifteen counts in April 1993 and was sentenced to a fifteen-month prison term. (1993) [63][64]
  • Albert Bustamante (D-Texas) was convicted of accepting bribes and sentenced to three and one-half years in prison. (1993) [65]
  • David Durenberger Senator (R-Minnesota) denounced by Senate for unethical financial transactions and then disbarred (1990). He pleaded guilty to misuse of public funds and given one year probation (1995) [66]
  • Jay Kim (R-CA) accepted $250,000 in illegal 1992 campaign contributions and was sentenced to two months house arrest. (1992)[67][68][69][70]

1981–1989 (Ronald Reagan (R) presidency)

Executive branch

  • Operation Ill Wind was a three-year investigation launched in 1986 by the FBI into corruption by U.S. government and military officials, and private defense contractors.
  1. Melvyn Paisley, Assistant Secretary of the Navy,[71] was found to have accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. He pleaded guilty to bribery and served four years in prison.[72][73][74]
  2. James E. Gaines, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy, took over when Paisley resigned his office.[75] Gaines was convicted of accepting an illegal gratuity and theft and conversion of government property. He was sentenced to six months in prison.[76]
  3. Victor D. Cohen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, was the 50th conviction obtained under the Ill Wind probe when he pleaded guilty to accepting bribes and conspiring to defraud the government. He was sentenced to 33 months in prison.[77][78]
  • Housing and Urban Development Scandal was a controversy concerning bribery by selected contractors for low income housing projects.[79]
  1. James G. Watt (R) United States Secretary of the Interior 1981–1983, was charged with 25 counts of perjury and obstruction of justice. Sentenced to five years probation, fined $5,000 and 500 hours of community service[80]
  • Iran-Contra Affair (1985–1986); A secret sale of arms to Iran, to secure the release of hostages and allow U.S. intelligence agencies to fund the Nicaraguan Contras, in violation of the Boland Amendment.[81]
  1. Elliott Abrams (R) Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, convicted of withholding evidence. Given 2 years probation. Later pardoned by President George H. W. Bush.[82]

Legislative branch

  • Abscam FBI sting involving fake 'Arabs' trying to bribe 31 congressmen. (1980) [84] The following Congressmen were convicted:
  1. Harrison A. Williams (D-NJ) Convicted on 9 counts of bribery and conspiracy. Sentenced to 3 years in prison.[85]
  2. John Jenrette (D-SC) sentenced to two years in prison for bribery and conspiracy.[86]
  3. Richard Kelly (R-FL) Accepted $25K and then claimed he was conducting his own investigation into corruption. Served 13 months.[87]
  4. Raymond Lederer (D-PA) "I can give you me" he said after accepting $50K. Sentenced to 3 years.[88]
  5. Michael Myers (D-PA) Accepted $50K saying, " talks and bullshit walks." Sentenced to 3 years and was expelled from the House.[89]
  6. Frank Thompson (D-NJ) Sentenced to 3 years.[90]
  7. John M. Murphy (D-NY) Served 20 months of a 3-year sentence.[91]
  • Wedtech scandal Wedtech Corporation was convicted of bribery in connection with Defense Department contracts.[92]
  1. Mario Biaggi (D-NY) Convicted of obstruction of justice and accepting illegal gratuities he was sentenced to 2½ years in prison and fined $500K. (1987)[93]
  2. Robert Garcia (D-NY) sentenced to 2½ years.[94]
  • Pat Swindall (R-GA) convicted of 6 counts of perjury. (1989) [95][96]
  • George V. Hansen (R-ID) censured for failing to file out disclosure forms. Spent 15 months in prison.[97]
  • Frederick W. Richmond (D-NY),Convicted of tax evasion and possession of marijuana. Served 9 months (1982) [98]
  • Dan Flood (D-PA) censured for bribery. After a trial ended in a deadlocked jury, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year's probation.[99][100]
  • Joshua Eilberg (D-PA) pleaded guilty to conflict-of-interest charges. In addition, he convinced president Carter to fire the U.S. Attorney investigating his case.[101]
  • Jon Hinson (R-MS) was arrested for having homosexual oral sex in the House of Representatives’ bathroom with a government staffer. Hinson, who was married, later received a 30-day jail sentence, and a year's probation, on condition that he get counseling and treatment. At the time, homosexual acts were criminalized, even between consenting adults. He then resigned his seat and began working as a gay rights advocate.(1981) [102][103]

1977–1981 (Jimmy Carter (D) presidency)

Legislative branch

  • J. Herbert Burke (R-FL) pleaded guilty to disorderly intoxication, resisting arrest, and nolo contendere to an additional charge of witness tampering. He was sentenced to three months plus fines.(1978)[104]
  • Fred Richmond (D-New York) – Convicted of tax fraud and possession of marijuana. Served 9 months in prison. Charges of soliciting sex from a 16-year-old boy were dropped after he submitted to counseling. (1978) [105]
  • Charles Diggs (D-Michigan), convicted on 29 charges of mail fraud and filing false payroll forms which formed a kickback scheme with his staff. Sentenced to 3 years (1978) [106]
  • Michael Myers (D-Pennsylvania) Received suspended six-month jail term after pleading no contest to disorderly conduct charged stemming from an incident at a Virginia bar in which he allegedly attacked a hotel security guard and a cashier.[107]
  • Frank M. Clark (D-Pennsylvania) pleaded guilty to mail fraud and tax evasion on June 12, 1979 and sentenced to two years in prison.[108]
  • Richard Tonry (D-Louisiana) pleaded guilty to receiving illegal campaign contributions.[109]

1974–1977 (Gerald R. Ford (R) presidency)

Executive branch

  • Earl Butz (R) Secretary of Agriculture. He was charged with failing to report more than $148,000 in 1978. Butz pleaded guilty to the tax evasion charge and was sentenced to 30 days in jail and five years of probation and was ordered to make restitution. He served 25 days behind bars before his release.[110][111]

Legislative branch

  • James F. Hastings (R-New York), convicted of kickbacks and mail fraud, he also took money from his employees for personal use. Served 14 months at Allenwood penitentiary. (1976) [112]
  • John V. Dowdy (D-Texas), Allegedly tried to stop a federal investigation of a construction firm. He served 6 months in prison for perjury. (1973) [113][114]
  • Bertram Podell (D-New York), pleaded guilty to conspiracy and conflict of interest. He was fined $5,000 and served four months in prison. (1974)[115]
  • Frank Brasco (D-New York) Sentenced to three months in jail and fined $10,000 for conspiracy to accept bribes from a reputed Mafia figure who sought truck leasing contracts from the Post Office and loans to buy trucks.[101]
  • Richard T. Hanna (D-CA), convicted in an influence-buying scandal. (1974)[116]

1969–1974 (Richard M. Nixon (R) presidency)

Executive branch

  • Watergate (1972–1973) Republican 'bugging' of the Democratic Party National Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel led to a burglary which was discovered. The cover up of the affair by President Richard Nixon (R) and his staff resulted in 69 government officials being charged and 48 pleading guilty, including 7 for actual burglary. Eventually, Nixon resigned his position.[117]
  1. John N. Mitchell (R) former United States Attorney General, convicted of perjury.[118]
  2. Richard Kleindienst (R) United States Attorney General, convicted of "refusing to answer questions" given one month in jail.
  3. H. R. Haldeman (R) White House Chief of Staff, convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury. Served 18 months in prison.
  4. John Ehrlichman (R) former White House Counsel, convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury. Served 18 months in prison.
  5. Egil Krogh (R) United States Undersecretary of Transportation, sentenced to six months.
  6. John Dean (R) White House Counsel, convicted of obstruction of justice, later reduced to felony offenses and served 4 months.
  7. Dwight Chapin (R) Secretary to the President of the United States, convicted of perjury.
  8. Charles Colson (R) Special Counsel to the President for Public Liaison, convicted of obstruction of justice. Served 7 months.

Legislative branch

  • Edwin Reinecke (R-CA) convicted of perjury and sentenced to 18 months in prison as part of the Watergate investigation.
  • Cornelius Gallagher (D-New Jersey) pleaded guilty to tax evasion, and served two years in prison.[121]
  • J. Irving Whalley (R-Pennsylvania) Received suspended three-year sentence and fined $11,000 in 1973 for using mails to deposit staff salary kickbacks and threatening an employee to prevent her from giving information to the FBI.[101]
  • Martin B. McKneally (R-New York) Placed on one-year probation and fined $5,000 in 1971 for failing to file income tax return. He had not paid taxes for many years prior.[122]
  • James Fred Hastings (R-NY) Resigned on January 20, 1976 after being convicted of kickbacks and mail fraud. He served 14 months at Allenwood penitentiary (1976).[112]
  • George V. Hansen (R-ID) US Representative, first member of Congress to be convicted of violating a new 1971 campaign law requiring disclosure of financial contributions(1974)[123][124]

1963–1969 (Lyndon B. Johnson (D) presidency)

Legislative branch

  • Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) drove his car into the channel between Chappaquiddick Island and Martha's Vineyard, killing passenger Mary Jo Kopechne. Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a suspended sentence of two months (1969)[125]
  • Daniel Brewster (D-Maryland) pleaded no contest to accepting "an unlawful gratuity without corrupt intent."[126]
  • Frank W. Boykin (D-AL) was convicted of conspiracy and conflict of interest in July 1963.[127]

1961–1963 (John F. Kennedy (D) presidency)

Legislative branch

  • Thomas F. Johnson (D-Maryland) was convicted of conspiracy and conflict of interest regarding the receipt of illegal gratuities.[128]
  • Frank Boykin (D-Alabama) Was placed on probation and fined $40,000 following conviction in a case involving a conflict of interest and conspiracy to defraud the government. He was pardoned by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964.[129]

1953–1961 (Dwight D. Eisenhower (R) presidency)

Legislative branch

  • Thomas J. Lane (D-Massachusetts) convicted for evading taxes on his congressional income. Served 4 months in prison, but was re-elected three more times.[130] before his 1962 defeat due to re-districting. (1956) [131]
  • Ernest K. Bramblett (R-California) Received a suspended sentence and a $5,000 fine in 1955 for making false statements in connection with payroll padding and kickbacks from congressional employees.[132]

1945–1953 (Harry S. Truman (D) presidency)

Legislative branch

  • Walter E. Brehm (R-Ohio) convicted of accepting contributions illegally from one of his employees. Received a 15-month suspended sentence and a $5,000 fine.[133]
  • J. Parnell Thomas (R-New Jersey): a member of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), was convicted of salary fraud and given an 18-month sentence and a fine, resigning from Congress in 1950. He was imprisoned in Danbury Prison with two of the Hollywood Ten he had helped put there. After serving his 18 months he was pardoned by Truman (D) in 1952.[134]
  • Andrew J. May (D-Kentucky) Convicted of accepting bribes in 1947 from a war munitions manufacturer. Was sentenced to 9 months in prison, after which he was pardoned by Truman (D) in 1952.[135]
  • James M. Curley (D-Massachusetts) fined $1,000 and served six-months for fraud before Harry S. Truman commuted the rest of his sentence.[136]

1933–1945 (Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) presidency)

Legislative branch

  • John H. Hoeppel (D-CA) convicted in 1936 of selling an appointment to the West Point Military Academy. He was fined $1,000 and sentenced to 4–12 months in jail.[137]
  • Michael J. Hogan (R-NY) was convicted of bribery and sentenced to a year and a day in a Federal Penitentiary.(1935)[138]

1929-1933 (Herbert Hoover (R) presidency)

Legislative Branch

  • Harry E. Rowbottom, (R-IN) was convicted in Federal court of accepting bribes from persons who sought post office appointments. He served one year in Leavenworth.(1931)[139]

1923–1929 (Calvin Coolidge (R) presidency)

Legislative branch

  • John W. Langley (R-KY) Resigned from the US Congress in January 1926, after losing an appeal to set aside his conviction of violating the Volstead Act (Prohibition). He had also been caught trying to bribe a Prohibition officer. He was sentenced to two years, after which his wife Katherine G. Langley ran for Congress in his place and won two full terms.[140][141]

1921–1923 (Warren G. Harding (R) presidency)

Executive branch

The Harding administration was marred by scandals stemming from his appointment of men in his administration whom he had known in Ohio. They came to be known as the Ohio Gang. They include;

  1. Albert Fall (R) Secretary of the Interior who was bribed by Harry F. Sinclair for control of the Teapot Dome federal oil reserves in Wyoming. He was the first U.S. cabinet member to ever be convicted; he served two years in prison. (1922) [142]

1913-1921 (Woodrow Wilson (D) presidency)

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1909–1913 (William Howard Taft (R) presidency)

Legislative Branch

  • William Lorimer Senator (R-IL), The 'blond boss of Chicago' was found guilty of accepting bribes in 1912.[143]

Judicial Branch

1901-1909 (Theodore Roosevelt (R) presidency)

Legislative Branch

1897-1901 (McKinley (R) presidency)

Executive Branch

  • Oregon US Federal District Attorney John Hicklin Hall (R) was appointed by President William McKinley. In 1903, Hall was ordered to investigate land fraud in what became known as the Oregon land fraud scandal and was put on trial for failing to prosecute land companies engaging in fraudulent activities, and for using his knowledge of illegal activities to blackmail his political opponents. On February 8, 1908, a jury found Hall guilty of the charges.(1907)[149] He was later pardoned by President William Howard Taft.[150]



See also

Federal politicians:

State and local politics:


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