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A longtime Massachusetts state representative was charged Tuesday with using tens of thousands of dollars in campaign cash for golf club dues, casino trips and other personal expenses.
David Nangle, a Democrat who represents parts of Chelmsford and Lowell and sits on the House Committee on Ethics, faces federal charges including wire and bank fraud for spending more than $70,000 in campaign funds to bankroll his personal debts and sustain his gambling habit, authorities said.
"This was not a momentary lapse of judgement or a technical foul," said Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling. "This was a systematic pattern of theft and fraud going back to at least 2014."
Nangle was arrested Tuesday morning at his Lowell home, said FBI agent Joe Bonavolonta. Nangle is expected to appear in court later Tuesday.
He was brought into the courtroom Tuesday wearing leg chains, a blue dress shirt and gray slacks. He only spoke to answer "not guilty" to the charges. U.S. Magistrate M. Page Kelley freed him on $25,000 unsecured bond, meaning he doesn't have to put up the money, but he would owe it to the government if he fails to appear at future hearings.
The magistrate instructed him to refrain from gambling while free. After meeting with probation, Nangle left the courthouse, but refused to answer any questions from the crush of reporters who were outside waiting for him.
Nangle's laywer, William Connolly, said in an email that his client "is a good man who has proudly served his district as a State Representative." Nangle has served in the legislature for more than 20 years.
"The charges against David are nothing more than allegations," Connolly wrote. "We will fight these charges in court."
Nangle, 59, was an extensive gambler who owed tens of thousands of dollars in debt, authorities said in court documents. Meanwhile, he managed to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for his campaigns even though he hasn't had an opponent since 2012, officials said.
Nangle used that cash to pay for golf club dues, rental cars to get to and from casinos, and flowers for his girlfriend, among other things, prosecutors said. He also used campaign funds to cover hotel and restaurant charges, some of which he was already being reimbursed for by the state, officials say.
Nangle owed tens of thousands of dollars in debt to several restaurant owners and then spent thousands of dollars of campaign cash at the owners' restaurants "as a means of appeasing his lenders," according to the indictment.
Lelling said Nangle deceived state officials of his illegal spending by using an acquaintance as a "straw campaign vendor," who he paid to provide fake services to his campaigns.
Nangle is also accusing of lying to a bank to obtain more than $300,000 in loans, as well as filing false tax returns with fake deductions that allowed him to show no taxable income.
WBUR's Steve Brown contributed to this report.
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