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Campaign Treasurer Kinde Durkee Pleads Guilty to Mail Fraud

U.S. Attorney Ben Wagner discusses Friday's guilty plea by Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.
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Above: U.S. Attorney Ben Wagner discusses Friday's guilty plea by Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

Aired 3/30/12 on KPBS News.

The woman who handled the campaign finances for dozens of Democratic candidates in California has admitted to embezzling at least $7 million in campaign funds.

The woman who handled the campaign finances for dozens of Democratic candidates in California has admitted to embezzling at least seven million dollars in campaign funds. Kinde Durkee pleaded guilty Friday to five counts of mail fraud in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

U.S. Attorney Ben Wagner said Durkee skimmed money from campaign coffers for more than a decade before an investigation by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission raised suspicions of her accounting practices.

“With their help, we took it from there, broadened the investigation, began looking at more accounts," said Wagner, "and as is commonly the case in Ponzi schemes and other fraud schemes of this sort, the more rocks you turn over, the more you find. And it essentially unraveled the entire scheme."

Wagner believes there will be more than 50 victims identified before Durkee is sentenced in June. One of those victims is U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, whose campaigns were stripped of at least four and a half million dollars.

Durkee faces 14 years in prison.