Former California congressman Hunter gets 11 months in corruption case
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[March 18, 2020]
By Mike Blake
SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Former U.S.
Representative Duncan Hunter, who pleaded guilty to a charge of campaign
finance fraud, was sentenced on Tuesday to 11 months in federal prison
in a corruption case that ended the California Republican's
once-promising political career.
Hunter, 43, whose conviction set off a scramble within the Republican
Party to succeed him while seemingly boosting Democrats' chances to gain
his seat, was ordered to report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons on May
Following completion of his 11-month term behind bars, Hunter is to
remain under supervised release - the federal equivalent of probation -
for three years, U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan in San Diego ruled.
Hunter pleaded guilty in December to a single count of conspiring to
convert campaign funds to personal use, a felony carrying a maximum
penalty of five years in prison.
Under terms of his guilty plea, the U.S. Attorney's Office had sought a
14-month prison term.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Halpern hailed the outcome of the case
as a victory for truth.
"Too many people have come to embrace the cynical idea that the
politicians who make the laws are not required to follow the laws,"
Halpern told Reuters. "Hunter perpetuated that false idea by committing
campaign finance fraud and then lying to the public to cover it up."
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U.S. ex-congressman Duncan Hunter leaves a federal court after being
sentenced to 11 months in prison after earlier pleading guilty to a
single corruption charge in San Diego, California, U.S., March 17,
2020. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted in 2008 on charges of
misappropriating $250,000 in campaign donations to pay for lavish
personal expenses. His wife pleaded guilty and named her spouse a
co-conspirator last June, the same month prosecutors alleged in
court papers that Hunter had spent campaign funds on extramarital
liaisons with five women.
A U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran who was an early supporter of
President Donald Trump, Hunter had long insisted he was wrongly
accused and the victim of a politically motivated prosecution. When
he reached a plea deal with prosecutors, he said he was doing so to
spare his family a trial.
In a brief statement before being sentenced, the former six-term
congressman accepted responsibility for illegally using campaign
money and asked Whelan to "take sympathy" on his wife when she is
sentenced in April, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Hunter resigned in January from the San Diego congressional seat he
first won in 2008, succeeding his father and fellow Republican,
Duncan Lee Hunter, who attended Tuesday's sentencing.
(Reporting by Mike Blake in San Diego; Writing and additional
reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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