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John Edwards Affair Leads To Federal Indictment

A federal grand jury indicted two-time presidential candidate John Edwards on Friday over massive sums of money spent to keep his mistress in hiding during the peak of his 2008 campaign for the White House.

He was scheduled to be arraigned later in the day in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The case of USA v Johnny Reid Edwards contains six counts: one count of conspiracy, four counts of illegal campaign contributions and one count of false statements. The indictment was returned in the Middle District of North Carolina.

Edwards could face five years in prison if convicted.

A spokeswoman for Edwards said she wasn't aware of the filing and declined immediate comment.

The indictment was the culmination of a federal investigation that lasted more than two years and scoured through virtually every corner of Edwards' political career.

It said Edwards proposed the names of wealthy donors who could give his mistress and their baby financial support. The money paid for hotels, chartered airplanes and living expenses. And none of it was reported to federal election officials.

The indictment said the payments were a scheme to protect Edwards' White House ambitions. "A centerpiece of Edwards' candidacy was his public image as a devoted family man," the document read.

"Edwards knew that public revelation of the affair and the pregnancy would destroy his candidacy by, among other things, undermining Edwards' presentation of himself as a family man and by forcing his campaign to divert personnel and resources away from other campaign activities to respond to criticism and media scrutiny regarding the affair and pregnancy," the indictment added.

Edwards has signaled he believes the government's case is weak and that he will fight it in court.

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