'Humiliated' Dinesh D'Souza seeks probation after guilty plea

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza has asked a federal judge to sentence him to probation and community service after pleading guilty to a campaign finance law violation.

Conservative commentator and best-selling author, Dinesh D'Souza exits the Manhattan Federal Courthouse after pleading guilty in New York, May 20, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

In a Wednesday court filing, D’Souza’s lawyers said their client will present himself as a “disgraced and humiliated man” who acted out of character by having two “straw donors” donate $10,000 each to his friend Wendy Long’s unsuccessful 2012 U.S. Senate campaign in New York, and then reimbursing them.

The sentencing recommendation includes an unusual statement from D’Souza, 53, to U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan, who will impose sentence at a Sept. 23 hearing.

D’Souza said the means he chose to help Long, a Republican he had known since both attended Dartmouth College, was “completely aberrant,” and has led to his credibility as a public figure to be called into question. He added there was “zero chance” he would commit the crime again.

“I cannot believe how stupid I was, how careless, and how irresponsible,” D’Souza wrote.

“I took a short-cut, knowing that there was a campaign limit and trying to get around the limit,” he continued. “This should not have happened, and I am ashamed and contrite that it did.”

The Mumbai-born D’Souza, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1991, proposed community service that could involve teaching, instructing new immigrants in English, or working at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater San Diego.

D’Souza faces up to two years in prison. Federal prosecutors have until Sept. 8 to make their sentencing recommendation.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan declined to comment.

The case against D’Souza, a critic of President Barack Obama, prompted some conservatives to accuse the government of selectively prosecuting him. Bharara is an Obama appointee.

D’Souza wrote the 2010 bestseller “The Roots of Obama’s Rage” and co-directed “2016: Obama’s America,” a 2012 film that expressed concern about the country’s future if Obama were reelected.

More recently, D’Souza published “America: Imagine a World Without Her” in June and soon after released a companion movie.

The book was No. 1 on the New York Times’ hardcover nonfiction best seller list for the week ended Aug. 31. It is No. 3 for the week ending Sept. 7.

The case is U.S. v. D’Souza, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 14-cr-00034.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Gunna Dickson