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California congressman indicted for mishandling campaign funds

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter appeared with his wife in federal court in San Diego for a hearing after a 60-count indictment detailed their alleged misuse of over $250,000 in political campaign funds. Hunter's lawyer requested another status conference because he needed more time to prepare motions prior to a trial. He wanted the judge to excuse the congressman from that hearing, but the judge refused the request.

The congressman, a 41-year-old former Marine, and his 43-year-old wife are expected to answer for charges of falsifying campaign finance reports to the Federal Election Commission, conspiracy and wire fraud. The indictment against them detailed their purported spending of campaign funds on private expenses. From 2009 through 2016, investigators reported that the couple illegally spent the money on family vacations to destinations like Italy. They also apparently dipped into the campaign money for school tuition, golf, dental work and even shots of tequila.

Rep. Hunter said that he is innocent and plans to fight the charges at a trial. At his arraignment, his lawyer said that political enemies motivated the criminal investigation. The five-term congressman is currently up for reelection. His district has long been a stronghold for Republicans, and his father held the congressional seat for years.

Wire fraud and other financial crimes fall under the purview of federal criminal law and often invoke heavy penalties. A person charged with federal crimes might want the insights of an attorney who is knowledgeable about federal court procedures and financial records. A defense strategy might emerge if the accused's association with the evidence is shaky or dependent on unreliable witnesses. The efforts of a lawyer might result in a reduction of charges and a lenient plea deal.

Source: San Diego Patch, "Rep. Duncan Hunter And Wife Appear Before Federal Judge", September 4, 2018

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