Kinde Durkee short in restitution for $10.5-million theft

SACRAMENTO -- More than a year after campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee was ordered to repay $10.5 million she embezzled from the accounts of dozens of politicians, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, federal officials say they have only been able to recover $94,468.60 from liquidation of her assets to go to restitution.

In November 2012, Durkee was sentenced to eight years in federal prison and ordered to repay the money she stole from 77 victims, mostly politicians from California, including the campaign committees of Feinstein and Democratic Reps. Laura Richardson of Long Beach, Loretta Sanchez of Garden Grove and Susan A. Davis of San Diego.

Federal prosecutors allege that Durkee used money from clients’ accounts to pay for Disneyland tickets, ice cream and other expenses billed to her credit cards, as well as to pay her mortgage and for residential care for a relative and office expenses to keep her failing business afloat.

Feinstein’s campaign committees lost the most, at least $4.5 million, according to the court filings.

Federal officials liquidated Durkee’s retirement account and sold her Burbank office building but have come up with less than $100,000, according to Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office. 

Justin Berger, an attorney for Feinstein’s campaign committees, said his law firm is still pursuing financial claims against the bank Durkee used, but he was not shocked that the liquidation of Durkee’s assets have yielded a fraction of what she stole.

“It’s disappointing but not surprising,” Berger said. “We think the money was frittered away over the years. There is no big pot of money sitting somewhere.”


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