Campaign treasurer pleads guilty to charges she defrauded Dems

A former top money manager for California Democrats admitted Friday that she defrauded candidates out of more than $7 million between 2000 and 2011.

Kinde Durkee pleaded guilty in federal court to five counts of mail fraud in what Justice Department officials are calling the biggest case ever prosecuted of a treasurer embezzling from campaigns.

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Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) accounts were wiped out by Durkee, whom officials said used client money to pay her mortgage, credit card and other personal expenses. California Democratic Reps. Susan Davis, Loretta Sanchez, Linda Sanchez and Laura Richardson were also among the victims.

"Like any fraudster, she depended on trust to perpetuate and conceal her scheme," said Benjamin Wagner, the U.S. attorney prosecuting the case. "In the world of politics, no less than in the world of finance, clients should be wary of relying on trust alone when choosing a guardian for their funds.”

Wagner's office said Durkee had agreed to pay restitution and would liquidate her own retirement account to help pay back what she took.

Durkee could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the five counts when she is sentenced in June.

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