Ex-Nevada power broker Harvey Whittemore completes prison term

Former power broker Harvey Whittemore was released from a federal halfway house Monday after serving 21 months of a two-year prison term for breaking campaign contribution laws.

Whittemore, 63, who surrendered in August 2014 at a federal prison camp in Lompoc, California, spent the last three months in the halfway house. He now will serve two years of supervised release in Nevada.

His lead Las Vegas lawyer, Dominic Gentile, declined to comment Monday.

A Reno federal jury in 2013 found Whittemore guilty of funneling $133,400 in unlawful contributions to the campaign of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Reid, who was the Senate’s majority leader at the time, was not accused of wrongdoing.

Whittemore, an attorney and onetime influential lobbyist who lives in Reno, was convicted of giving money to 29 family members and employees of his former company, Wingfield Nevada Group, and then using them as “conduits” for contributions to Reid’s 2007 re-election committee to skirt federal campaign laws.

Federal prosecutors alleged at the trial that Whittemore met with Reid at an upscale restaurant on the Strip in February 2007 and promised to raise $150,000 for the senator’s re-election campaign.

Whittemore hatched the scheme days before the March 31, 2007, campaign contribution deadline without Reid’s knowledge in an attempt to fulfill his promise to the senator, then one of the most powerful members of Congress, prosecutors alleged.

At the time, Whittemore was developing Coyote Springs, a master-planned community 50 miles from Las Vegas on the Lincoln and Clark county line, and needed congressional help to overcome government hurdles.

The Reno jury found Whittemore guilty of three felonies: making excessive campaign contributions, making contributions in the name of another and causing a false statement to be made to the Federal Election Commission.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his conviction in January 2015.

Gentile has argued that Whittemore did not “knowingly” violate campaign contribution laws and did nothing to hide his efforts to raise money for Reid.

But prosecutors contended he abused the election process to increase his own power and influence at the expense of the voting public.

The Nevada Supreme Court suspended Whittemore’s license to practice law following his conviction. He can apply for reinstatement in 2017.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135. Find @JGermanRJ on Twitter.

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