Obama campaign returns funds linked to Mexican fugitive

US President Barack Obama's election campaign will return some USD 200,000 funding linked to the family of a fugitive Mexican casino magnate, a media report said.

The Chicago-based brothers of Juan Jose Rojas Cardona, known as Pepe, has raised some USD 200,000 for Obama, who is seeking re-election in the November 6 presidential polls, the New York Times reported.

Pepe Cardona jumped bail in Iowa in 1994 and is now seeking a pardon for drug and fraud charges he faces in the United States, it said.

"On the basis of the questions that have been raised, we will return the contributions from these individuals and from any other donors they brought to the campaign," the paper quoted Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the Obama campaign as saying. Obama campaign officials said most of the money raised by the Cardona brothers came from themselves and other relatives, donations of about USD 200,000.

Last fall, Carlos Cardona and another brother in Chicago, Alberto Rojas Cardona, began raising money for the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The money Alberto Cardona raised put him in the upper tiers of fund-raisers known as bundlers, according to a list released last month by the campaign. He and Carlos Cardona each gave the maximum USD 30,800 to the Democratic National Committee, and a lesser amount to a state victory fund. A sister, Leticia Rojas Cardona of Tennessee, donated USD 13,000 to the national committee, and another relative in Illinois gave USD 12,600, records show.

There is no record of Pepe Cardona making a donation, the report said.

According to a leaked US state department cable from 2009, Pepe Cardona - now based in Mexico's Monterrey region - was suspected of orchestrating the murder of a business rival. After the rival's death, Pepe Cardona became the largest operator of casinos -- often used to launder illicit profits -- in the area.

Last year, according to the New York Times, his Chicago-based brothers Carlos and Alberto Rojas Cardona arranged for the former chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, Gordon Fischer, to seek a pardon for Pepe Cardona from the governor.

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