Ex-treasurer gets prison in donor extortion case

McCord once seen as a rising star in Democratic political circles

HARRISBURG (AP) — A former elected Pennsyl­vania state treasurer was sentenced Tuesday to 2¢ years in federal prison for trying to squeeze campaign cash from a law firm and a property management firm during his failed 2014 bid for governor.

Rob McCord, a venture capitalist once seen as a rising star in Democratic political circles, cooperated with investigators and resigned in January 2015 after being confronted by the FBI with secretly-recorded audiotapes. He pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted extortion and testified last year against an investment adviser in a bribery case that ultimately got thrown out of court.

U.S. District Court Judge John Jones told McCord he “suffered a precipitous fall from grace” as a result of criminal acts the judge described as “an overt and even brazen effort by Mr. McCord to essentially shake down businesses and individuals to donate to his campaign.”

“When an individual’s ambition trumps his or her good judgment and their otherwise decent character, that’s when crimes happen,” Jones said.

He also imposed $5,200 in fines and fees and a year of probation. McCord is scheduled to report to prison in late October.

McCord, 59, divorced and now living with a brother in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is studying to become a marriage and family counselor and works occasionally as a yoga instructor.

In court Tuesday, he admitted breaking the law and apologized to the public, his colleagues and others.

“I will spend the rest of my life trying to make amends,” McCord said.

Federal prosecutor Michael Consiglio told Jones he was concerned that McCord did not seem to accept the impact that his campaign contribution pressure played on his decisions as state treasurer.