A New Jersey man who conspired with his brother to violate federal elections laws has been sentenced to two years of probation.

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Benedetto Bigica, 46, of Elmwood Park was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Newark. He had pleaded guilty in January to conspiring to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act.

Prosecutors said Bigica and his brother, Joseph Bigica of Franklin Lakes, conspired to make more than $21,000 in illegal contributions to the campaign committee of a federal candidate.

Joseph Bigica was sentenced in December to five years in prison for failing to pay taxes and making illegal campaign donations to the candidate, who was not identified in court papers. Federal election finance reports showed that Joseph Bigica and at least four relatives donated about $30,000 to Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez's campaigns between 1998 and 2009.

A spokesman for Menendez said previously that the senator's office assisted authorities in pursuing the case, and then donated the money from the accused to charity. No one associated with the campaign has been accused of wrongdoing.

U.S. District Judge Faith Hochberg agreed Tuesday with arguments from prosecutors and Benedetto Bigica's attorney that he had played a lesser role in the conspiracy than his brother, adding that Benedetto Bigica was among several straw donors his brother had recruited.

"You are not your brother's keeper; I'm sure you've thought about that since," Hochberg told Benedetto Bigica, who also must pay an $8,600 fine.

Benedetto Bigica's attorney, Michael Baldassare, said his client was looking forward to moving on with his life.

 

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