Ex-treasurer to Democrats gets 8-year sentenceBy JULIET WILLIAMS
The Associated Press | November 29,2012SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A former Democratic campaign treasurer was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in federal prison for defrauding high-profile clients, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, of at least $7 million.
Kinde Durkee, 59, was sentenced to a total of 97 months behind bars in U.S. District Court after pleading guilty to five counts of mail fraud in March, when U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner called her “the Bernie Madoff of campaign treasurers,” referring to the infamous New York financial manager.
Durkee read a brief statement and apologized in court to “those who trusted me and I betrayed.”
“I take full and complete responsibility for what I’ve done,” she said.
Feinstein said she lost about $4.5 million in the scam involving Durkee that also targeted several state lawmakers and nonprofit political groups.
Authorities said Durkee used the money to pay mortgages for her home and business, care for her parents in a home for seniors and for incidental expenses such as trips to Costco.
Wagner has said he believes the actual fraud was closer to $10 million.
During sentencing, Judge Kimberly Mueller emphasized the egregious nature of Durkee’s crimes. The judge asked that she be ordered to serve in a prison that has mental health services.
“What she did had an impact on the political and electoral processes on which our democracy is based,” Mueller said.
Durkee also was ordered to pay $10.5 million in restitution.
Daniel Nixon, an attorney for Durkee, said in a pre-sentencing report that she was incapable of managing her business partly because of her fear of conflict, which led her to let candidates’ bills go unpaid and refuse to fire incompetent staff.
The crimes could have carried a maximum penalty of 100 years, but Durkee’s plea deal called for a possible sentence of 11 to 14 years. She has been free on $200,000 bond. Nixon and prosecutors said Durkee ran the equivalent of a shell game through the Burbank office of Durkee & Associates.
“Although the number of clients grew, so did the number of non-paying clients, and Ms. Durkee found that she had trouble confronting her clients to collect payment,” according to her attorney’s report.
The roster of victims also included Reps. Loretta Sanchez and Susan Davis; state Sen. Lou Correa, D-Anaheim; Assemblyman Jose Solorio, D-Santa Ana; and political nonprofit groups such as the Los Angeles County Democratic Party.
The pre-sentencing report also said she has always been known as a kind and generous woman, and that she did not lead a lavish lifestyle. Durkee’s husband of nearly 30 years, John Forgy, has been unemployed for more than 15 years, “which increased the financial pressure on Ms. Durkee to support them,” the report said.
The scheme was uncovered by investigators with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, who noticed discrepancies in the filings for Solorio and asked the FBI for assistance. The state lawmaker lost at least $677,000 to Durkee, according to the criminal complaint.
Durkee and her husband have agreed to forfeit the Burbank office from which she operated and to hand over her 401(k) retirement account, estimated to be valued at about $90,000.MORE IN Wire NewsPIONKI, Poland — Everybody in Poland seems to be against them now: temporary contracts that offer... Full StoryROME — Pope Francis has declared a Jubilee Year for Rome, and the first of as many as 30 million... Full StoryCINCINNATI — A University of Cincinnati officer who shot a motorist during a traffic stop over a... Full Story
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day 1739, 'Richard Palmer' identified in prison at York Castle as the notorious outlaw DICK TURPIN; IN 1836, Battle of the Alamo begins near San Antonio de Bexar, Texas; 1896, the Tootsie Roll invented by LEO HIRSCHFELD.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1472, Orkney, Shetland islands put up as collateral by Norway to Scotland in lieu of dowry for MARGARET OF DENMARK on her marriage with JAMES III, king of Scotland; 1962, JOHN GLENN first American to orbit Earth.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: City mayoral candidates debate campaign issues; Hartford, Conn., woman still missing; Neal Goswami reports attempts to legislate suicide; local woman loses 100 pounds through TOPS program.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1878, JOHN TUNSTALL murdered near Lincoln, New Mexico, by the outlaw JESSE EVANS; in 1930, ELM FARM OLLIE first cow to fly in aircraft, first to be milked airborne; 1955, nuke test WASP; '79, snow in Sahara.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Rutland Herald News Editor Alan J. Keays and staff writer Gordon Dritschilo discuss stories planned for the February 18, 2015, edition of the newspaper: Winter budgets maxed, legal marijuana, Springfield bank job, USPS slowdown
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1249 AD, ANDRE of LONGJUMEAU is dispatched by LOUIS IX of France to meet the KHAGAN, ruler of the Mongol Empire; in 1804, during 1st Barbary War, STEPHEN DECATUR scuttles the pirate-held USS Philadelphia in Tripoli.