MANHATTAN — City Comptroller John Liu’s 25-year-old former campaign treasurer was indicted by a grand jury Friday on campaign finance fraud charges.
Jenny Hou is accused of helping Liu’s campaign skirt campaign finance laws by allegedly using straw donors to channel illegal contributions far above the legal limit into Liu's campaign coffers.
One of Liu’s top fundraisers, Oliver Pan, has also been indicted for allegedly funneling $16,000 in illegal contributions to the once-rising star's campaign.
Federal investigators allege that Hou not only knew about the alleged scheme, but also helped coach volunteers in forging signatures to cover up donors’ identities and even offered to personally reimburse one $500 donation with her own cash, according to court documents.
Hou is also accused of trying to cover up the fraud by failing to turn over complete donor lists and personal documents.
“Today, we allege that Jia Hou, a campaign treasurer, was a central figure in a coordinated scheme to break the city's campaign finance laws,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement announcing her arrest in February. "Hou concealed the use of straw donors, subverted the City's electoral system, and obstructed justice."
Liu’s campaign, which has been floundering since Hou's arrest, defended Hou in a statement.
"As far as we can tell this just rehashes everything from months ago. John believes Jenny, and he believes in her. The allegations remain just that — unproven allegations," his spokesman said in a statement.
"Jenny is entitled to a fair hearing, and John hopes she will be treated fairly. "