Houma businessman pleads guilty to federal charges

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The president and owner of Houma-based Cenac Towing pleaded guilty Wednesday to illegally funneling campaign contributions above the legal limit to Louisiana’s two U.S. senators.

Arlen “Benny” Cenac Jr., 57, of Houma, faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison following his guilty plea to making false statements to the Federal Elections Commission. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 5 by U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans.

Federal prosecutors say Cenac used personal and corporate accounts to purchase cashier’s checks and submit campaign donations in the names of other people without their knowledge.

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

Cenac agreed to a $170,000 civil settlement last year with the FEC for funneling thousands of dollars above the legal limit to the campaigns of Sens. Mary Landrieu and David Vitter. Landrieu and Vitter aren’t accused of wrongdoing.

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