LOS ANGELES – Conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, who was spared prison time after pleading guilty to violating federal campaign finance laws, is holding his head high with a somewhat restored faith in the American judicial system.
“I feel relief, exhilaration – not because I didn’t get a significant sentence, but I was facing a much bigger sentence that would have seriously affected my work and ability to make another movie for election year,” D’Souza told FOX411. “My sentence restores some faith in a Democratically appointed judge, a Clinton appointee, can look a Democratic government prosecution in the eye and say ‘no’ to the 10-16 month prison sentence they wanted for me.”
On Tuesday, Judge Richard M. Berman of Federal District Court in Manhattan sentenced D’Souza to five years of probation, a $30,000 fine and eight month in a San Diego community confinement center where he will undergo “therapeutic counseling.” Such a center typically involves a “residence in a halfway house, restitution center, community treatment center, mental health facility, alcohol or drug rehabilitation center, or other community facility.”
However, D’Souza is still a little unsure of what exactly the confinement center is and will entail.
“I believe I will have to sleep at one of these centers for eight months, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t come and go and access my email and function,” he said. “I recognize that I did something wrong.”
D’Souza was charged with illegally organizing for two people to each make $10,000 campaign donations to Wendy E. Long, a friend from his days at Dartmouth College. He pled guilty to the allegations in May and told FOX411 that at the time, he was simply frustrated that he couldn’t do more to help Long, who he says was struggling financially with her campaign.
“She was asking me for other favors, like speaking and fundraisers and meeting with potential donors. I didn’t think that I what I chose to do to help was a felony, but it was careless,” he explained. “Being prosecuted was the furthest thing from my mind.”
After his indictment in January, D’Souza argued that he was being unfairly targeted by the government due to his politics and criticism of the Obama administration, which he highlighted in his 2012 book and documentary “2016.” However, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office claimed that his actions were “serious and strikes at the heart of our federal election system.”
The filmmaker said that how and why he was exposed and singled out remains a “fog of mystery,” and that the prosecution even attempted to exclude key details in other “similar” cases presented to the court that would justify why he should be put behind bars.
“We found out in the examples that they used that the other subjects had all sorts of incriminating offenses like lying to the FBI, past corruption or multiple felonies that they didn’t acknowledge,” D’Souza noted.
Despite the charge and his claims of being singled out over political points of view, D’Souza went ahead with publishing a new book and releasing the documentary “America: Imagine the World Without Her” over the summer. He also expressed dismay over now being a convicted felon – thus not being able to vote – but insisted they are things he is willing to endure, and is ultimately satisfied with the outcome of the trial.
“The priceless look on the prosecutors’ faces is a look I will remember for a while. The Judge gave me some stern words earlier and seemed very upset with things I said and my criticism of the government. So I think they thought they were winning,” D’Souza added. “The main thing for me is not being silenced, and the government was trying to do that by trying to put me away.”
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