The Daniel hotel in Brunswick. Hannah LaClaire / Times Record file photo

The former owner of The Daniel hotel in Brunswick and 2017-2018 Massachusetts congressional candidate Abhijit “Beej” Das was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly using campaign funds to pay debts on his hotel business, among other charges.

“Today, we arrested Abhijit Das for allegedly soliciting his friends and family for at least $125,000 in illegal campaign contributions, repeatedly dipping into his campaign coffers to pay outstanding debts related to his hotel business, and falsifying campaign finance reports to try and cover his tracks,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Boston Division, in a news release. “We believe Mr. Das engineered this calculated scheme to show he was a viable candidate for office, at the expense of voters and the election process.”

According to the release, up until around 2019, Das owned “a financially struggling hotel business” that included The Daniel in Brunswick as well as another hotel in Massachusetts and a 108-foot yacht. The properties were part of Das’s company, Troca Hotels.

In 2017-18, Das was a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 3rd Congressional District of Massachusetts. He finished seventh in that race.

According to the release, in late 2017, Das allegedly solicited personal loans from friends and close associates in excess of the legal limit. He allegedly emailed a contributor asking for a friend to support his campaign to raise over $450,000 by the end of the year, stating that reaching that goal might need “some engineering.” The state alleges Das told a member of his campaign he would “aggregate” the loans into “one batch” and execute a main transfer into the campaign account.

The indictment alleges that between January and May 2018, Das withdrew $314,500 in funds from his campaign account, of which he used at least $267,000 to pay outstanding debts for his hotel business relating to vendors, the hotel’s yacht and real estate taxes unrelated to his congressional campaign, according to the release. “In making these withdrawals, Das allegedly sought to conceal his conversion of campaign funds by instructing bank tellers to report the withdrawals as separate withdrawal and deposit transactions, rather than direct transfers.”

Das is also accused of aiding and abetting the submission of false information in quarterly reports to the FEC by overstating the amount of cash-on-hand his campaign had in its bank account. “For example, on June 30, 2018, Das allegedly reported that his campaign’s total amount of cash-on-hand was approximately $440,000, when in fact the amount of cash-on-hand in the campaign bank account was less than $5,000,” the release states.

“Campaigns funds are governed by strict federal rules so political contributions aren’t used as personal slush funds, among other reasons,” said Ramsey E. Covington, acting special agent in charge of the IRS-Criminal Investigation Division. “Today’s indictment alleging campaign finance violations for the personal benefit of the defendant, represent a flagrant violation of those laws and blatant betrayal of the public trust.”

Das was indicted on two counts of making a false statement, and one count each for accepting excessive campaign contributions, conduit contributions, conversion of campaign funds, engaging in a scheme to falsify, conceal, and cover up material facts.

Das pleaded not guilty to all counts of the indictment and was released on bail. He is represented by attorney Neil F. Faigel.

“I would like to ask that you do not jump to any conclusions based solely upon the allegations,” Faigel said in a statement. “Time and again, cases that have a political component are inherently complicated. At this time, and at this juncture, it would be premature to comment further.”

Each of the charges carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater.

The Times Record reported that Das purchased The Daniel Hotel in 2013, which was at that time valued at about $2 million. In 2015, the company launched a multi-million dollar renovation.

In February 2020, Das announced his plans to sell the hotel for around $3 million after seven years of ownership, the last of which had months of financial and operational struggles, The Times Record reported.

“As part of a strategic decision by Troca Hotels, The Daniel is on the market,” Das said in a statement at the time.“Troca Hotels, its team members, partners and investors are proud to have been a part of the history of this iconic asset and look forward to passing the torch to a new owner seeking to own and operate an incredibly special part of mid-coast Maine.”

Shortly after, however, The Times Record reported that the hotel went into foreclosure and was sold at auction in September of 2020. In December of 2020, The Times Record reported that The Daniel, which had sold for $1.9 million at the auction, would remain a hotel under the new owners, Bella Point Holdings LLC.

The Daniel Hotel was formerly known as The Captain Daniel Stone Inn and dates back to 1819.

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