Former Louisiana Sen. Karen Carter Peterson charged with wire fraud, aiding and abetting –

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NEW ORLEANS — Former longtime Louisiana State Senator Karen Carter Peterson is facing federal charges of wire fraud and aiding and abetting.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana laid out the charges against the 52-year-old New Orleans Democrat in a bill of information, which is typically used in cases in which the accused is cooperating with investigators.
According to a Department of Justice statement, Peterson diverted, and caused her friends and associates to divert, campaign funds from her campaign fund for personal. The feds say the activities continued for about 7 years.
Investigators also said Peterson wrote checks from her campaign account to her friends and associates, then directed them to cash the checks and give her most or all of the proceeds. Peterson is accused of using the funds to pay for personal expenses unrelated to her campaign or the holding of public office, including paying gambling-related expenses.
She is also accused of filing false or misleading campaign finance reports that mischaracterized expenses as legitimate campaign purchases.
Investigators say Peterson also allegedly used her position as Chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party to choose companies operated by her associates who were hired to do work for the party. Instead, investigators say those companies did no or minimal work and gave a portion of the funds paid to them back to Peterson.
If convicted, Peterson faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000.00, up to 3 years of supervised release after imprisonment, and a mandatory $100 special assessment fee. Peterson is scheduled to be arraigned in court on Aug. 1. She is expected to plead guilty.
According to The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate, Peterson paid $50,000 in restitution to the state Democratic Party she once chaired and is likely to plead guilty in the coming days to federal charges.
I have made full repayment of funds used as a result of my addiction and I will continue to make amends.
Staying true to the steps of my ongoing recovery, I have been forthright, honest,and fully cooperative with the US Attorneys’ Office in their investigation. #gamblingrecovery
Peterson’s lawyer, Brian Capitelli, issued a statement Wednesday saying that the resolution “marks an important step in Ms. Peterson‘s recovery as she continued to address her gambling addiction.”
The statement added: “She is sincerely remorseful for her compulsive behavior resulting from this addiction and has made full repayment of funds used as a result of her addiction. She has been forthright, honest, and cooperative with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in their investigation.”
Shortly before abruptly resigning from the Louisiana Senate in April, Peterson gave an emotional speech before leading the body in prayer.
She said, “As many of you know, I’ve suffered with depression and a gambling addiction for many years. What you may not know over the past few years, I participated in and received successfully, in-patient and outpatient treatment for depression and addiction.”
Peterson also claimed was sober and off the bet.
“I just take life one day at a time by surrendering my will and my life over to our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ and asking him for forgiveness. I share this story because I’m thankful, I’m humbled and because it will help others who are suffering with this illness to overcome the guilt, the shame, the embarrassment associated with the disease and the things we do in conjunction with the disease.”
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