La. tugboat magnate pleads guilty to campaign finance charges

The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana:

(NEW ORLEANS) — The president of a Louisiana towing company pleaded guilty today to using his personal and business accounts to fund campaign contribution checks in the names of others in support of two candidates for the U.S. Senate, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Dana Boente announced.

ARLEN “BENNY” CENAC JR., 57, a resident of Houma, La., and the president and owner of Cenac Towing, pleaded guilty today to making false statements to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when he is sentenced on Sept. 5, 2013, before U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier.

“Today’s plea marks the second campaign finance conviction in a week and is one of many such cases brought throughout the nation,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman. “Mr. CENAC’s crime undermined the cornerstones of campaign finance laws, and his conviction demonstrates our resolve to hold accountable anyone who corrupts our electoral process.” 

“Mr. CENAC, in an effort to increase his political contributions, structured his financial transactions and created false documents,” said U.S. Attorney Boente.  “This prosecution should serve as a warning to people who attempt to hide their identity and make contributions in excess of legal limits.”

According to the plea documents, CENAC obtained cashier’s checks using his personal and corporate funds in names of individuals other than himself, including people he knew professionally, personally, or through family relations.  CENAC neither sought nor obtained the permission of the individuals he listed as remitters on the cashier’s checks.  He then submitted the checks as campaign contributions to the campaigns of two U.S. Senate candidates, causing the campaigns to submit materially false information regarding the source and the amount of the contributions to the FEC.

The case was investigated by the FBI’s New Orleans Division. Trial Attorney Tracee Plowell of the Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Friel of the Eastern District of Louisiana are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

By Professional Mariner Staff