Former Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Yukihiro Yoshida was given a suspended three-year prison term Wednesday for vote-buying and conspiracy to misappropriate funds in connection with a scandal-tainted dental lobby.
Yoshida, 43, had admitted buying votes in the 2003 House of Representatives election, in which he lost his seat, but had pleaded not guilty to conspiring with officials of the Japan Dental Association to embezzle 30 million yen of the lobby’s funds in 2001.
Prosecutors had demanded a three-year prison term for Yoshida.
Yoshida said he will not appeal the ruling.
“The crime was vicious and masterful, as the defendant, in the conspiracy case, received 30 million yen in the name of donations in order to buy votes in the lobby’s leadership race,” presiding Judge Toshiya Kawamura said in handing down the ruling.
The judge also said Yoshida had “little sense of morality,” as he easily accepted an offer of financial assistance from an accomplice to help ensure his election in 2003.
Yoshida conspired with Sadao Usuda, former head of the Japan Dental Association, and association executive Hirotake Uchida to embezzle the money, which was withdrawn as donations to Yoshida but was used to help Usuda get re-elected in the group’s leadership race, the court said.
The judge said Usuda was the main beneficiary of the embezzlement, and Yoshida would have had a hard time refusing requests from the association, which is his support group.
Yoshida, a former dentist, had claimed his cooperation with the association officials did not constitute conspiracy because he did not know the money would be used to buy votes in the group’s leadership election.
Usuda was given a suspended three-year prison term for embezzlement and for giving an undeclared donation of 100 million yen to the LDP’s largest faction in 2001.
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