$2.5 million frozen in Kinde Durkee case released to politicians, charities
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Politicians who had their campaign accounts plundered by former campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee may not get much in restitution, but a civil action has freed up $2.5 million in funds frozen in bank accounts during the federal investigation.
First California Bank had frozen the accounts of dozens of politicians whose money was handled by Durkee. A Superior Court judge recently ordered the accounts unfrozen and the money left over distributed to its owners.
The money was what was left in the accounts after Durkee misspent up to $7 million, said Atticus Wegman, an attorney pursuing civil action against Durkee on behalf of federal and state legislators.
Durkee pleaded guilty earlier this year to mail fraud involving the theft of more than $7 million from her political clients and faces about eight years in prison.
The court last month unfroze $38,000 left over in Rep. Lorreta Sanchez’s campaign bank account, but she still is missing $400,000, Wegman said. Correa received $69,000 in funds left over in his campaign bank account, but another $700,000 is still missing. There is little hope that much of the money will ever be recovered.
That court decision also meant a check for $80,000 to the Los Angeles County Democratic Party, according to Chairman Eric Bauman. Until the account was unfrozen, the party activists had to work hard to raise money to match what was off limits.
He said the distribution was especially helpful to dozens of small charities whose modest bank balances were needed to keep operating.
--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento