Edwards found not guilty on one count

Fri, Jun 1, 2012, 01:00

GREENSBORO – Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, charged with using illegal campaign contributions to hide an extramarital affair, was found not guilty on one count yesterday while the judge declared a mistrial on the other five counts.

A federal jury of four women and eight men in Greensboro, North Carolina, found Mr Edwards not guilty of one count of violating campaign finance laws.

On that charge, the government alleged that in 2008 Mr Edwards knowingly accepted more money from campaign donor Rachel “Bunny” Mellon than was allowed by law.

The donations, in 2007 and 2008, were used to cover rent, medical visits and prenatal expenses for Mr Edwards’s mistress, Rielle Hunter, in addition to travel and hotel accommodations to hide her from the public.

US District Judge Catherine Eagles declared a mistrial on five other counts. Mr Edwards, who did not testify, faced a maximum of 30 years in prison if convicted on all counts. The government has the option of retrying him.

Prosecutors alleged that Mr Edwards used almost $1 million in payments from Ms Mellon, a 101-year-old multimillionaire heiress, and Fred Baron, a now-deceased trial attorney, to conceal his affair with Ms Hunter, an unemployed filmmaker with whom he fathered a child.

The case marks the first time the government has prosecuted someone for campaign violations when money was paid to a third party.

Mr Edwards, a former US senator from North Carolina and Democratic presidential contender in 2008, was indicted in June after a two-year investigation. – (Bloomberg)