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Theft of Democrats' funds suspected

WASHINGTON -- The FBI and US attorney's office are investigating the apparent theft of about $350,000 in checks from a Democratic campaign committee, federal law enforcement and Democratic Party officials said yesterday.

The money was traced to a private bank account that records indicate was opened by Roger J. Chiang, who was employed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

All but about $10,000 has been recovered, they said. Chiang, who was involved in fund-raising, has been fired, a Democratic official said. No charges have been filed.

Chiang did not immediately respond to a reporter's message, left yesterday on his home answering machine, seeking comment.

The campaign committee is the primary fund-raising and political organization for Senate Democrats. Overall, the committee reported raising more than $76 million for the two-year election cycle that just ended.

Campaign committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse said the committee's internal auditors discovered the problem in early October. With US Capitol Police, they traced and recovered most of the money in time to use it in this fall's Senate campaigns, he said. The money yet to be recovered was insured, he said.

The checks, many made out to DSCC, instead were deposited to an account called DSCAMPO, the officials said. Bank records showed that account was opened in Chiang's name, using his home address and Social Security number, the officials said.

The alleged theft and the investigation were first reported in yesterday's editions of The Washington Post.

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