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Margaret Hunter sentencing for campaign fund misuse delayed

 

Last updated 6/29/2020 at 5:10pm



SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A judge approved a joint motion Monday to delay sentencing for nearly two more months for Margaret Hunter, who pleaded guilty along with her husband, former Rep. Duncan Hunter, to federal conspiracy charges for misusing campaign funds to support years of personal expenditures.

Margaret Hunter was slated to be sentenced next Monday, but COVID-19-related concerns led the prosecution and defense to jointly agree to postpone her sentencing until Aug. 24, "in the hope that the present public emergency will have abated'' by then.

U.S. District Judge Thomas J. Whelan agreed to grant the motion.

Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty more than a year ago to using campaign credit cards on family vacations, restaurant and bar tabs, clothes and other frivolous expenses over the course of several years.

Prosecutors said the couple spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, with the former congressman falsely reporting the expenses as campaign-related.

Duncan Hunter pleaded guilty about six months after his wife and was sentenced earlier this year to 11 months in federal prison.

He was slated to surrender to authorities last month, but Whelan approved a joint request to delay the surrender date to as late as Jan. 4, 2021, “due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the unknown impacts the disease will have in the coming months.''

The Hunters were charged in 2018 in a 60-count indictment.

At Duncan Hunter's sentencing hearing, he asked Whelan for leniency and sympathy when he sentences “the mother of my children,'' asking the judge not to give her time in custody “if it's possible.''

In the prosecution's sentencing memorandum, it states the Hunters were ``virtually penniless'' and amid dire financial straits, resorted to using campaign credit cards to support “a profligate lifestyle leading to continual debt and an ever-increasing need to find cash to pay bills.''

Despite the family bank account not carrying a positive balance throughout any single month between 2009 and 2017, the family lived extravagantly, racking up thousands of dollars on expensive family trips and scores of other improper personal purchases, according to the memorandum.

Prosecutors also say in court filings that Duncan Hunter gave his wife a campaign credit card even though she had no official role in the campaign, and later hired her as campaign manager amid protests from members of his staff.

 

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