• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

John Edwards trial: Prosecution rests

May 10, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Prosecutors rested their case Thursday against John Edwards, accused of using campaign funds to cover up an extramarital affair.

Prosecutors allege Edwards used money from two wealthy campaign donors to cover up an affair with a campaign videographer who later became pregnant with his child.

Prosecutors called advisers and friends of Edwards to the stand over the past 14 days. Rielle Hunter, the videographer turned mistress and mother, was not called to the stand by the prosecution.

Edwards had an affair with Hunter as he renewed his marriage vows to his cancer-stricken wife. He fathered a child with Hunter and then a decision was made for his right-hand man to claim paternity so Edwards could keep up his lofty political ambitions. And he lied repeatedly to his wife, his advisers and the public.

As prosecutors wrapped up their case, they showed the jury records detailing the money spent to hide Hunter - $319,500 in cash, luxury hotels, private jets and a $20,000-a-month rental mansion in Santa Barbara, Calif. The bills, flashed up on a large screen for the jury to see, were all paid by Fred Baron, a wealthy Texas lawyer who served as Edwards' 2008 campaign finance chairman.

Baron began paying the expenses after tabloid reporters tracked down the pregnant mistress in Chapel Hill, where she had been secretly living in a house rented for her only a few miles from the Edwards family estate. Hunter was being closely watched over by Edwards' once-close confidant, Andrew Young, who falsely claimed paternity of boss' baby as the tabloid prepared to expose the affair.

As part of the cover-up, Baron paid for Hunter - and Young and his wife - to cross the country on private flights worth more than $80,000 and stay in waterfront hotel suites costing nearly $44,000, including bar tabs and frequent room service. Baron also leased a mansion in Santa Barbara for the mistress as she prepared to give birth, with total costs over the next eight months totaling $184,378.

Several witnesses testified that Edwards knew what the money was spent on; others were less definitive.

The government must prove Edwards had criminal intent, and his defense team will ask U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles on Friday to dismiss the case, arguing they haven't proven their case. If the judge allows the trial to go forward, the defense will begin presenting its side Monday - and may call Hunter to testify. Edwards could also take the stand in his own defense.

Edwards has pleaded not guilty to six counts related to campaign finance violations. Prosecutors say he spearheaded a scheme to use nearly $1 million in secret payments from Baron and 101-year-old heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon to hide his affair and keep his presidential campaign viable.

Edwards denies knowing about the secret payments, which his lawyers contend were gifts from friends rather than campaign contributions. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Load Comments