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Group fires fundraiser, returns $100,000 gift of convicted felon

March 3, 2014 at 1:24 PM

WASHINGTON, March 3 (UPI) -- An advocacy group supportive of President Barack Obama fired a fundraiser and returned a $100,000 check from a New Jersey man seeking a pardon, it said Monday.

The non-profit Organizing for Action, headquartered in Washington, confirmed it dismissed fundraiser Samantha Maltzman, who collected the contribution from Dr. Joseph Piacentile.

Piacentile was convicted of Medicaid fraud and tax evasion in 1994. He served six months in a halfway house and agreed to a $900,000 consent judgment.

Maltzman obtained the check for a dinner with Obama, which took place last week in Washington. She also took steps to keep the donation secret, asking Piacentile to write a second check to a partner organization, America Votes, which does not have a policy of disclosing donors, NBC News said.

"We hold ourselves to the highest standards," Organizing for America spokeswoman Katie Hogan said. "We did not accept the donation in question."

She added Piacentile would not attend the dinner.

Piacentile filed an application with the Justice Department, seeking a pardon from Obama, in December. His check was dated Feb. 6.

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