Major Obama Donor Accused of Fraud and Impersonation

A major financial backer of President Obama’s reelection bid has been accused of defrauding a businessman and impersonating a bank official.

The New York donor, Abake Assongba, and her husband contributed more than $50,000 to Obama’s re-election campaign this year, federal records show.

Assongba is being sued civilly, in Florida, for allegedly stealing more than $650,000 to build a multimillion-dollar home in the state.

Obama is the only presidential candidate this year to release his list of “bundlers,” the financiers who raise money by soliciting high-dollar contributions from friends and associates.

That disclosure has embarrassed his campaign once before as it had to return $200,000 last month to Carlos and Alberto Cardona, the brothers of a Mexican fugitive wanted on federal drug charges.

Assongba was listed on Obama’s campaign website as one of its volunteer fundraisers.

Assongba and her husband, Anthony J.W. DeRosa, run a charity called Abake’s Foundation that distributes school supplies and food in Benin, Africa. A photo posted on Assongba’s Facebook page shows the couple standing next to Obama at a May 2010 fundraiser.

Swiss businessman Klaus-Werner Pusch accused Assongba in 2009 of engaging him in an email scam, then using the money to buy a multimillion-dollar home. The suit alleges Assongba impersonated a bank official.

Assongba is also in court with a former landlord, who alleges that she owes more than $10,000 in back rent and damages for a previous apartment. She was also evicted in 2004 after owing $5,000 in rent, records show.

Assongba has given more than $70,000 to Democratic candidates in recent years, an AP review of Federal Election Commission data shows. Her larger contributions include $35,000 to the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee between Obama and the Democratic Party, and $15,000 to Democrats running for Congress. DeRosa also gave $15,000 to Obama’s victory fund in April 2011, records show.

Abake’s Foundation is listed by the IRS as a registered nonprofit organization; its financial reports were unavailable.

Obama’s campaign declined to comment on whether Assongba’s contribution would be refunded.


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