SACRAMENTO (Reuters) – A Democratic campaign treasurer accused of draining up to $20 million from the coffers of her clients, including U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein , pleaded guilty on Friday to fraud-related charges in a deal with prosecutors .
Kinde Durkee , 59, who was charged with five counts of mail fraud, entered her plea to all counts in federal court in Sacramento. She faces up to 14 years in prison.
The arrest last year of Durkee , a longtime treasurer for Democratic politicians who lived in the Southern California port city of Long Beach, left the campaign teams of a number of elected officials in disarray.
Prosecutors said in court documents that Durkee used money that belonged to her political campaign clients to pay such expenses as the mortgage on her condominium, visits to Disneyland, charges on her credit cards, medical bills and her own firm’s business costs.
“She’s very remorseful,” said Daniel Nixon , Durkee’s attorney, who added he would argue she should receive a sentence significantly lower than the maximum of 14 years behind bars.
“She’s taken full responsibility,” Nixon said.
Durkee’s written plea agreement with prosecutors states she defrauded clients of at least $7 million and as much as $20 million, and that her victims numbered between 10 and 50.
Aside from Feinstein, a Democratic senator from California, Durkee was accused of defrauding the campaigns of Representative Loretta Sanchez and her sister Representative Linda Sanchez as well as a number of other office holders, candidates and political groups.
(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Paul Thomasch)
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