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Ex-campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee sentenced to 8 years in prison

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Former campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee was sentenced to eight years in prison on Wednesday and a judge ordered her to pay more than $10.5 million to victims including state and federal politicians from whom she stole political funds.

U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller in Sacramento accepted the recommendation of federal prosecutors that Durkee, a former go-to treasurer for Democrats, spend 97 months in federal custody. Durkee pleaded guilty in March to five counts of mail fraud.

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In making that plea, Durkee admitted to the theft of $7 million from more than 50 victims, but the judge Wednesday ordered her to pay restitution of more than $10.5 million that 77 victims claim to have lost, including expenses incurred in establishing the losses. However, to pay the restitution Durkee has so far produced only $91,000 from a retirement account. Durkee apologized in court ‘to those who trusted me and I betrayed.’

The judge called the crime a ‘significant and egregious offense.’

Durkee’s victims included the campaigns of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Democratic Reps. Laura Richardson of Long Beach, Loretta Sanchez of Garden Grove, Linda T. Sanchez of Lakewood and Susan A. Davis of San Diego.

In a sentencing memorandum, U.S. Atty. Benjamin B. Wagner called the penalty ‘an appropriate sentence,’ adding, ‘This sentence will reflect the seriousness of the offense, provide just punishment, and afford adequate deterrence.’

Federal authorities said most of the money went to keeping Durkee’s campaign finance business afloat, paying her mortgage and covering other expenses, including Dodgers and Disneyland tickets.

Her attorney, Daniel V. Nixon, wrote in a court filing that Durkee had shown remorse for her actions and cooperated with authorities.

‘Ms. Durkee acknowledges that her conduct amounted to a serious criminal offense, she breached the trust placed in her by her clients and caused the campaigns to suffer significant material loss,’ the filing by Nixon says. ALSO:

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--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento


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