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Dinesh D'Souza sentenced for breaking campaign finance laws

Dinesh D'Souza sentenced for breaking campaign finance laws
Dinesh D'Souza, left, working on the documentary "2016: Obama's America." ("2016: Obama's America")

Dinesh D'Souza, the conservative pundit and filmmaker behind the scathing documentary "2016: Obama's America," has been sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay a $30,000 fine for violating campaign finance laws.

D'Souza pleaded guilty in May the day his trial was set to begin. He admitted to illegally directing close associates in 2012 to make $20,000 in contributions to U.S. Senate candidate Wendy Long, a New York Republican, who ended up losing to Democratic incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand in last year's election.

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In addition to the probation and fine, the filmmaker must spend eight months of his probation as a resident of a community confinement center, where he will be free to leave during the day but must check back in at night, and must do one day of community service per week for his entire five-year probation, according to Betsy Feuerstein, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office.

D'Souza is a former policy advisor to President Reagan and author of the 2010 book "The Roots of Obama's Rage," which largely informs his film "2016: Obama's America." The book and film argue that Obama's politics have been shaped by "the Third World radicalism of his own absentee father."

Many film critics panned "Obama's America" upon its release in August 2012, including The Times' Betsy Sharkey, who wrote that it "promises to demystify the president … but does more to illuminate its filmmaker, Dinesh D'Souza, and his ego instead."

Variety's Joe Leydon was kinder, writing, "While it's highly unlikely that anyone predisposed to championing Obama would be won over by the sound and fury here, there's no gainsaying the value of '2016' as a sort of Cliffs Notes precis of the conservative case against the re-election of our current U.S. president."

In spite of its tepid reviews, "Obama's America" managed to reel in $6.5 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada over its wide-release opening weekend in August 2012, edging out Sony Pictures' bike messenger thriller "Premium Rush" as the weekend's top new film. It went on to gross $33.4 million.

This past June, Lionsgate released D'Souza's film "America: Imagine the World Without Her." It didn't perform as well as "Obama's America" -- this year's "America" made $2.7 million in its wide-release opening weekend and has grossed $14.4 million so far.

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