NEW YORK – Filmmaker and Obama critic Dinesh D’Souza was sentenced in Manhattan Tuesday morning in his campaign finance case to eight months in a work-release center during five years of probation, community service one day a week and a $30,000 fine.
He will be allowed to continue his writing and filmmaking but must set aside one day a week during his probation to teach English to non-English speakers.
D’Souza pleaded guilty in May to arranging “straw donors” to contribute $10,000 to the failed 2012 U.S. Senate campaign of Wendy Long, a college friend.
D’Souza let out a big sigh of relief when U.S. District Judge Richard Berman began the sentencing hearing, which lasted more than two hours, by stating he didn’t believe prison was necessary.
“I want to thank the judge for imposing what I believe is a fair sentence,” D’Souza told reporters after the hearing.
D’Souza’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, issued a statement calling it an “enlightened sentence by a court who carefully and thoughtfully reviewed all of the facts and imposed an appropriately lenient sentence.”
D’Souza will spend the first eight months of his five-year probation in a community confinement center in San Diego, where he currently resides.
Berman also ordered D’Souza to undergo psychological therapy during his probation period, explaining he couldn’t comprehend the psychological motivation of someone who would do something so foolish at the pinnacle of his career.
D’Souza told the judge Long was part of his surrogate family while he was a foreign-exchange student at Dartmouth College. He said the donations were an impulsive decision to try to help Long.
Prosecutors had asked for a prison term of at least 10 months, insisting D’Souza had not shown remorse. D’Souza’s allies contend the case is politically motivated payback for his two successful documentaries and companion bestselling books critical of Obama and what D’Souza regards as an anti-American ideology.
D’Souza explained his attitude toward the case in an interview with WND earlier this month.
“I am contrite for exceeding the campaign finance limit, but I am not contrite for being a public critic of the Obama administration,” he said.
Federal sentencing guidelines had given Berman the option of up to 24 months.
D’Souza argued for leniency, asking to be allowed to do community service under probation. He argued his prior criminal record was clean and he was genuinely contrite for having committed what many consider to be a technical violation of campaign finance laws.
Supporters of D’Souza see a double standard, maintaining Eric Holder’s Justice Department typically ignores similar technical violations in contributions to Democratic Party campaigns.
In January, Geraled R. Molen, producer of D’Souza’s two films, told WND the charges were “the equivalent of prosecuting a political dissident in the Soviet Union for jaywalking.”
“Yes, jaywalking in the Soviet Union is a crime, but it’s a minor crime. The real point is that you are a political dissenter and the government wants to put you away,” said Molen, who won an Academy Award for co-producing “Schindler’s List.”
“When Dinesh D’Souza can be prosecuted for making a movie,” he said, “every American should ask themselves one question: ‘What will I do to preserve the First Amendment?'”
After ringing up approximately $14.5 million in nationwide theater distribution, D’Souza’s latest film is scheduled to go into DVD distribution in October.
His book by the same title was a No. 1 bestseller both on Amazon.com and on the New York Times list.
WND broke the story in July that wholesale giant Costco had removed D’Souza’s book “America” from shelves nationwide, prompting many Costco shoppers to cancel store memberships. Amid the backlash, Costco reversed the decision and reordered the book.
Sales figures obtained by WND show that since July, Costco has sold more than 75,000 copies of D’Souza’s book. Costco has placed a substantial order for the forthcoming DVD.
D’Souza can now claim two feature films in the top 10 political documentaries, with “2016: Obama’s America” ranked No. 2, with nearly $33.5 million in lifetime gross revenue. It trails only Michael Moore’s 2004 documentary, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” with lifetime gross revenue exceeding $119 million.
“America” opens with a dramatic fictional scene of the British defeating the American Revolutionary War Army as Gen. George Washington is shot to death on the battlefield by a British sniper.
The documentary considers what the world would look like if American didn’t exist.
It depicts iconic American monuments such as the Statue of Liberty in New York and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington dissolving into sand.
It dramatizes Abraham Lincoln arguing famously that the future risk to United Sates national security will not come from foreign enemies but from within.
D’Souza draws on Howard Zinn’s socialist-inspired bestselling college textbook, “A People’s History of the United States: 1482 to Present,” to articulate the leftist indictment of the United States.
The film features interviews with prominent leftist authors and activists ranging, including Noam Chomsky and Ward Churchill, who portray the U.S. as a racially oppressive nation in which power has been accumulated through imperialist foreign wars and domestic class warfare that oppresses people of color, starting with the indigenous Indian tribes displaced from their lands and slaves brought in chains from Africa.