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Campaign treasurer gets 8 years for fraud

Kinde Durkee's theft of millions of dollars from her political clients is called a 'significant and egregious offense.' She is ordered to pay more than $10.5 million in restitution.

November 28, 2012|By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times
  • Kinde Durkee leaves the federal courthouse in Sacramento on Wednesday after being sentenced to eight years in prison and being ordered to pay $10.5 million in restitution.
Kinde Durkee leaves the federal courthouse in Sacramento on Wednesday… (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated…)

SACRAMENTO — Former campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in prison for fraud and ordered to repay more than $10.5 million to politicians from whom she stole.

U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller ordered that Durkee, a former go-to treasurer for Democrats, serve her time in federal custody in a facility that can provide her with mental health services. Mueller said Durkee lacked the ability to control impulses, which led to criminal activity.

The judge called Durkee's crime a "significant and egregious offense" and a "deep violation of trust" that hurt not only her clients but also the democratic process.

Durkee pleaded guilty in March to five counts of mail fraud, admitting the theft of $7 million from more than 50 people, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), from whom she stole $4.6 million, and Democratic Reps. Laura Richardson of Long Beach, Loretta Sanchez of Garden Grove and Susan A. Davis of San Diego.

But the judge ordered her to pay restitution of more than $10.5 million that 77 victims say they have lost.

So far, Durkee has produced only $91,000 from a retirement account. A small Burbank office building she owns will be sold at auction on Friday, but it is unclear whether there is any equity in the property.

Durkee's voice quavered with emotion Wednesday as she read a statement in court apologizing for her actions.

"To those who trusted me and I betrayed, to those who counted on me and I let down, to those who depended on me and I disappointed, I take full and complete responsibility for what I have done,'' Durkee said.

Her attorney, Daniel V. Nixon, said Durkee used most of the stolen money to keep her campaign bookkeeping business afloat as some clients failed to pay for her services and expenses spiraled out of control. Durkee used some of the money to pay her mortgage and for expenses including tickets to Dodgers games and Disneyland.

In a statement read by a prosecutor in court, Davis said she "felt personally betrayed'' to learn Durkee had taken $159,000 of her campaign funds and asked that the investigation continue so there can be a full accounting of all the missing money.

"It is hard to believe she spent so much just on her basic needs,'' Davis said.

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