Ben Suarez was accused of using employees, relatives and others to donate $100,000 each to U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci's 2012 congressional campaign and state Treasurer Josh Mandel's failed U.S. Senate bid

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CLEVELAND -- A federal jury has returned verdicts in the trial of North Canton business man Ben Suarez.

A jury has convicted a northeast Ohio telemarketing millionaire of witness tampering in a case involving campaign contributions to two prominent Republican politicians.

Suarez of North Canton was found guilty Monday in federal court in Cleveland for obstruction of justice on a witness tampering charge.

But he was acquitted on other counts.

Prosecutors had alleged Suarez used employees, relatives and others to donate $100,000 each to U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci's 2012 congressional campaign and state Treasurer Josh Mandel's failed U.S. Senate bid.

Attorneys for Suarez argued in court that he reimbursed the contributors but didn't know it was illegal and shouldn't be found guilty.

The judge earlier dismissed two obstruction charges against Suarez, citing insufficient evidence. His company's former chief financial officer pleaded guilty in the case and testified against Suarez.

Jurors began deliberating Friday in the federal court case of a North Canton businessman charged with making illegal campaign contributions to two prominent Republican politicians.

He owns North Canton-based Suarez Corporation Industries.

Suarez, 72, is accused of using employees, relatives and others to donate $100,000 each to U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci's 2012 congressional campaign and state Treasurer Josh Mandel's failed U.S. Senate bid.

His trial began June 4.

Suarez was charged with eight counts of campaign finance violations, causing false statements to be made to federal elections officials, and obstruction of justice.

If convicted, Suarez faces a sentence of 10 to 12 years in prison and a $1 million fine. His company could be fined $10 million to $20 million, if convicted.

A prosecutor said in closing arguments Thursday that the 72-year-old North Canton businessman bundled the donations hoping the politicians would help with a consumer protection complaint in California.

Defense attorneys said the telemarketing millionaire made a mistake but did not willingly break the law.

They also said the government's star witness, a former top Suarez employee, was innocent despite having taken a plea deal that could lead to a reduced prison sentence.

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