US NRI hotelier Chatwal gets probation, fine

Rejecting the prosecution's demand for a jail term, a federal judge in New York has sentenced prominent hotelier Sant Singh Chatwal, 70, to three years probation and a fine of $500,000, on charges of illegally donating thousands of dollars to political campaigns. Chatwal had pleaded guilty in April to violating the Federal Election Campaign Act by making over $180,000 in campaign donations to 3 candidates through straw donors and to witness tampering. Chatwal's lawyers asked the court to consider his age and lifetime of contributions to others and requested a sentence of probation with substantial community service in order to enable Chatwal to make amends by continuing to serve others and take care of his sons Vivek and Vikram who depend on him due to their medical disabilities. The Judge described the letters of support for Chatwal from current and former employees, members of the business community, and charitable organisations as 'unusual and impressive'. Chatwal also apologised to the court and said he had been humbled by the experience and expressed his regret at breaking the laws of the country that he loves. Chatwal also agreed to forfeit $1 million to the US and had been free on a $750,000 bail. After the verdict was announced Chatwal said he is very happy and his family and friends present in the court shook hands with each other and heaved a sigh of relief as they escorted him out of the courtroom.