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California campaign treasurer pleads guilty to looting $7 million

Kinde Durkee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein's former campaign treasurer, is believed to have embezzled millions of dollars from candidates.

March 30, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A former California Democratic campaign treasurer pleaded guilty on Friday to charges of looting the political accounts of more than 50 candidates and lawmakers.

It was one of the nation's most egregious political embezzlement cases.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says Kinde Durkee looted the campaign war chests of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and numerous other office-holders over a 10-year period, totaling more than $7 million.

She entered the plea to five counts of mail fraud in U.S. District Court in Sacramento. The plea deal carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in federal prison.

It ends a criminal case that left state and federal candidates with little or no money in their campaign accounts, heading into an election year in which they face newly drawn districts and a new primary system. Feinstein said she believes she may have lost close to $5 million.

Court filings say the money went to pay mortgages on Durkee's homes, various business expenses that included health care benefits and 401(k) contributions for her employees, and her mother's care in a home for seniors.

She also used the political accounts to pay for an array of personal expenses, including bills from Disneyland, Costco, Amazon.com, Ulta cosmetics and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Durkee has not spoken publicly since her arrest last September.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.