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L.A. County won't file misdemeanor charges against Kinde Durkee

L.A. County prosecutors say Kinde Durkee, the campaign treasurer accused of embezzlement, need not face misdemeanor charges considering the 'significant prison time she faces' in the federal case.

December 16, 2011|By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Sacramento — Los Angeles County prosecutors said Thursday they would not pursue misdemeanor charges against campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee for allegedly claiming to be an accountant when she did not have a license.

Durkee already has been charged in federal court with mail fraud in connection with the alleged embezzlement of a client's money, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office noted in a statement.

"In light of the significant prison time she faces in that case, misdemeanor charges are not warranted as the … violations are not likely to result in additional punishment or time in prison," the statement said. "Prosecution is declined in the interest of justice."

Durkee worked on Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley's political officeholder committee in 2000. His spokeswoman, Jane Robison, said Thursday that there was no conflict of interest for the prosecutor stemming from that relationship.

The state attorney general's office and the Burbank city attorney's office also have declined to take the misdemeanor case.

The state Board of Accountancy, which concluded after an investigation that Durkee was practicing without a license, is weighing other options. Those could include giving the case to the U.S. attorney's office, said Lauren Hersh, a spokeswoman for the board.

Durkee was in charge of more than 360 bank accounts for nearly 100 candidates, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), according to court records.

Papers filed by federal prosecutors allege that Durkee used funds taken from her clients' accounts to pay off credit card bills for trips to Disneyland and the Long Beach Aquarium, as well as for her business expenses and personal mortgage payments.

Some candidates, including Feinstein, say they have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars — money needed for campaigns next year. And banks have frozen accounts in response to the federal probe. Two of Feinstein's political committees have sued their bank and Durkee for fraud and breach of contract.

Durkee's attorney, Daniel V. Nixon, did not respond to a request for comment.

patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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