By Heather Hollingsworth ASSOCIATED PRESS
KANSAS CITY, Mo. | A former Michigan congressman accused of accepting stolen funds to lobby on behalf of a charity with suspected ties to terrorism pleaded guilty Wednesday to obstruction of justice, but prosecutors said more serious charges would likely be dropped.
Former Republican Rep. Mark Deli Siljander, who served in Congress from 1981 until 1987 and as a United Nations delegate for a year, pleaded guilty in federal court in Kansas City to obstruction and acting as an unregistered foreign agent.
Charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering will likely be dismissed under the terms of the 59-year-old Siljander‘s plea deal, said a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Missouri.
Abdel Azim El-Siddig, a part-time fundraiser for the Islamic American Relief Agency, also admitted Wednesday to conspiring to hire Siljander to lobby for the group’s removal from a Senate Finance Committee list of charities suspected of terrorist ties. Prosecutors said El-Siddig, of Chicago, concealed this advocacy and didn’t register with the proper authorities.
Prosecutors said Siljander received $75,000 from the charity to push for its removal from the list, and that the group paid him with funds obtained from the U.S. Agency for International Development for work it was supposed to have done in Africa.
Prosecutors said Siljander, who now lives in Great Falls, Va., lied to the FBI about being hired to lobby for the charity. He told investigators that the money he received was a donation to help him write a book about Islam and Christianity.
U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips said in a statement Wednesday that Siljander engaged in illegal lobbying for the charity, then used his own charities to hide the payments.
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