NEW YORK (CNN) — Real estate developer and political fund-raiser Charles Kushner of Livingston, New Jersey, was charged by federal prosecutors Tuesday with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and interstate promotion of prostitution.
The charges were announced by U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie for New Jersey.
In February 2003, Christie’s office began investigating Kushner for alleged violation of federal tax and fraud statutes and for purported violation of federal campaign contribution laws.
According to the indictment, two of the cooperating witnesses in the investigation — a married couple described as close relatives of Kushner — provided information against him to federal investigators.
The indictment alleges that Kushner initiated “a scheme to orchestrate a covert videotaped seduction” of the cooperating male witness in an attempt to thwart the investigation.
The indictment says Kushner recruited two individuals to hire a woman to have sex with the male witness and later instructed them to mail the videotape to the man’s wife, who was the other cooperating witness in the investigation.
Benjamin Brafman, Charles Kushner’s attorney, called the charges “baseless.”
“Charles Kushner is one of the most respected business leaders in the community and widely known as a very generous philanthropist,” Brafman said in a statement.
“The charges filed today are entirely baseless. Mr. Kushner is confident that once the facts are fully disclosed in a courtroom he will be completely exonerated.”
Appearing in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, Kushner was ordered to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet after posting posted $5 million bail, The Associated Press reported. He made no comment in court or outside the courthouse.
According to the Federal Election Commission, Kushner has made more than $1.4 million in individual contributions through his numerous real estate entities.
The FEC fined Kushner $508,900 last month for contributing money improperly to candidates in the names of his companies, the AP reported.
Kushner contributed to the campaigns of several prominent Democrats, including Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts and Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, according to FEC records.
According to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, Kushner has contributed $103,150 in his home state of New Jersey.
Kushner was a top fund-raiser for New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey, a Democrat, said the governor’s spokeswoman, Kathy Ellis. She had no comment on the charges.
In February 2003, Kushner withdrew as McGreevey’s nominee to head the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, owners of the World Trade Center, the AP reported.
At the time, Kushner was being targeted by lawsuits that alleged he used business funds improperly for political and personal reasons, the AP said.