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Edwards likely to face criminal charges

US said to allege he misspent funds

FOLLOWING THE MONEY Investigators say John Edwards used campaign funds to hide his mistress and their daughter during his ’08 presidential run. FOLLOWING THE MONEY
Investigators say John Edwards used campaign funds to hide his mistress and their daughter during his ’08 presidential run.
By Katharine Q. Seelye
New York Times / May 26, 2011

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NEW YORK — The Justice Department plans to move ahead with criminal charges against former senator and presidential candidate John Edwards, contending that he misused campaign funds to cover up an affair with his mistress, a person close to Edwards said yesterday.

“DOJ has made its decision to move forward with charges,’’ the person told The New York Times in an e-mail. “This phase of the case is moving rapidly toward conclusion,’’ the person added, but did not clarify whether that meant an indictment or a plea bargain.

The news of the Justice Department’s plan was first reported by ABC News Tuesday night.

A plea arrangement might allow Edwards to admit to wrongdoing and surrender his license to practice law but also to avoid an embarrassing trial.

A public trial could also prove awkward for Edwards because Rielle Hunter, the mistress, has been shopping a book to publishers, two publishing executives told The New York Times yesterday.

Edwards, 57, has been the subject of a two-year investigation into whether he used more than $1 million from political donors to hide his affair while he ran for president in 2008. Investigators have said that the money came from two top donors — Rachel “Bunny’’ Mellon, the heiress to the Mellon fortune, and Fred Baron, Edwards’s finance chairman, who died in 2008.

Investigators contend that some of the money was used to support and essentially hide Hunter as well as her daughter, whom Edwards eventually admitted he had fathered.

Edwards lawyer Gregory Craig said in a statement that prosecutors have never found that campaign funds were misused, calling the government’s theory in the case without precedent and “wrong on the facts and wrong on the law.’’

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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