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Mueller Witness Nader Pleads Guilty to Child Porn Charge

Andrew Harris

(Bloomberg) -- George Nader, a Lebanese-American businessman whose name appeared 125 times in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, pleaded guilty to criminal charges stemming from his June arrest for possession of child pornography.

Nader also admitted to transporting a 14-year-old boy into the U.S. to have the child engage in criminal sexual activity. He entered his plea Monday before U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema in Alexandria, Virginia, avoiding a trial that had been set for Monday and then postponed until March 2.

Nader’s plea resolves just one set of criminal allegations against him. Additionally, he was indicted last month in federal court in Washington for his role in a $5.3 million illegal campaign finance scheme. He pleaded not guilty in that case on Dec. 13.

In the Alexandria case, Nader pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography and one count of transportation of a minor boy for purposes of illegal conduct. He faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of 50 years when sentenced on April 10, though sentences for federal crimes are usually less than the maximum penalties.

The plea is part of an agreement Nader struck with prosecutors. The terms of the deal weren’t immediately made public.

Read More: Mueller Witness Charged in $5.3 Million Campaign Finance Scheme

Nader reserved the right to appeal the trafficking charge, which dates back to 2000, as beyond the statute of limitations, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Nader’s attorney, Jonathan Jeffress, didn’t immediately reply to an emailed request for comment.

A senior adviser to United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, Nader gained notoriety in Mueller’s report as the arranger of a clandestine January 2017 meeting in the Seychelles between Trump campaign surrogate Erik Prince and Kirill Dmitriev, who heads a Russian sovereign wealth fund. Prince is the brother of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The report described Dmitriev as closely tied to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Nader had “developed contacts with both U.S. presidential campaigns during the 2016 election and kept Dmitriev abreast of his efforts to do so,” the special counsel reported. “According to Nader, Dmitriev said that his and the government of Russia’s preference was for candidate Trump to win, and asked Nader to assist him in meeting members of the Trump campaign,” though Nader didn’t do so until after the election.

Read More: Mueller Witness Nader Faces New Child Pornography Charges

Nader and seven other people -- including Ahmad “Andy” Khawaja, chief executive officer of the online payment processor Allied Wallet Ltd. -- were charged with making campaign contributions in other people’s names, both to disguise the source of those funds and to evade federal limits on political gifts by individuals. Khawaja hasn’t answered the charges.

A resident of Dubai, Nader has been in federal custody since his June arrest at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. The evidence underpinning the initial charges against him was discovered after his arrival on another international flight, at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, in January 2018. Agents then had a warrant to search any electronic device stemming from a matter they said in June was unrelated to child porn.

Nader was found to be in possession of three mobile phones, including one with dozens of videos of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct, the FBI said in a June affidavit supporting his arrest warrant.

Nader pleaded guilty to similar charges in Virginia in 1991.

The case is U.S. v. Nader, 19-cr-201, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).

(Updates with news of plea agreement and with background in second and third sections)

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in federal court in Washington at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net, Peter Jeffrey

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