Ohio men plead not guilty in campaign funds probe

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A direct-marketing magnate and another executive at his northeast Ohio company have pleaded not guilty to charges accusing them of conspiring to skirt campaign finance laws while funneling nearly $200,000 to two congressional campaigns.

Benjamin Suarez, 72, of Canton, and Michael Giorgio, 61, of Cuyahoga Falls, were arraigned in federal court on Wednesday in Cleveland. They’re charged violating campaign finance laws, obstructing justice, conspiracy counts and making false statements. Suarez also is charged with witness tampering.

The men’s attorneys did not return requests for comment.

The FBI questioned employees of Suarez Corporation Industries last year about donations to two Republicans, U.S. Rep. James Renacci and state treasurer Josh Mandel, who was running for the U.S. Senate. Renacci and Mandel each returned at least $100,000 in campaign contributions.

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