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Campaign treasurer agrees to eight-year sentence

Kinde Durkee stole $7 million from up to 50 political clients and pleaded guilty in March to five counts of mail fraud.

November 27, 2012|By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
  • Campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee has agreed to an eight-year prison sentence.
Campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee has agreed to an eight-year prison sentence. (California Democratic…)

SACRAMENTO — Former campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee agreed Tuesday with a recommendation by federal prosecutors that she be sentenced to eight years in prison for stealing $7 million from as many as 50 political clients, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Such a punishment "is a just and appropriate sentence,'' says a court filing by Durkee's attorney, Daniel V. Nixon, on the eve of her sentencing.

The 15-page filing, set to be considered Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller in Sacramento, is the first detailed explanation Durkee has offered about what happened to the money she stole. She has been largely silent on the issue.

"Unlike many defendants, Ms. Durkee did not use the stolen funds to finance a lavish lifestyle," the filing says. "Although a significant amount of money was used to pay for personal expenses, including mortgage payments and credit card charges, a great deal of the stolen funds were used to keep the business afloat and her employees employed.''

Her husband's 15-year unemployment, her unwillingness to fire incompetent employees and a lack of timely payment by some clients led her to begin borrowing from one campaign account to fill another and to cover business expenses, according to the court papers.

"Unfortunately, it spiraled out of control, she lost track of the amount of the shortfall and it ultimately reached a level that she will be unable to repay in her lifetime," the filing says.

She has offered restitution from a six-figure 401(k) plan she owns and from equity in her Burbank business property.

The filing also discloses that Durkee began to have financial problems in the 1990s when she worked for a prestigious campaign finance firm headed by Jules Glazer, who later died. At the time she worked there, she covered for other employees' mistakes and sometimes did not take her own paychecks, the papers say.

Durkee, 59, has no previous criminal record and has cooperated with authorities. She pleaded guilty in March to five counts of mail fraud.

In addition to Feinstein, her victims include Democratic Reps. Laura Richardson of Long Beach, Loretta Sanchez of Garden Grove, Linda T. Sanchez of Lakewood and Susan A. Davis of San Diego.

"This sentence will reflect the seriousness of the offense, provide just punishment, and afford adequate deterrence," U.S. Atty. Benjamin B. Wagner said in a sentencing memorandum released Monday.

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