Duncan Hunter's Sentence Delayed
Last updated 5/27/2020 at 8:22am
A joint request from the federal government and Duncan Hunter’s attorney to delay the ex-congressman’s self-surrender date was approved by a San Diego federal judge on May 7.
The request asked to push the date until as late as the first week of January to begin serving an 11-month prison sentence for misusing campaign funds.
The motion filed stated, “this extension is appropriate due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the unknown impacts the disease will have in the coming months.”
U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan granted the request and ordered Hunter to surrender on or before noon, Jan. 4, 2021.
The motion also stated that in exchange for the government agreeing to it, he will not seek any sentence modification or pre-surrender credit for home confinement prior to serving his prison term.
Hunter pleaded guilty in December to a federal conspiracy charge for misusing campaign funds, and was sentenced on March 17 to 11 months in prison and three years of parole for corruption charges, with his surrender date originally slated for May 29.
During his sentencing, his lawyers argued for a lesser sentence, arguing their client’s extensive dedication to his country after serving in the marines. They asked that he should serve the 11 months at home and complete 1,000 hours of community service.
His wife, Margaret Hunter, also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring with her husband to misuse of funds and accepted a plea deal that called for her to testify against her husband. Her sentence has been delayed multiple times, with recent continuances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is currently set for June 8.
The Hunters were charged in August 2018 in a 60-count indictment, which alleged they used campaign funds for personal use, from family vacations to restaurant and bar tabs.
At Duncan Hunter’s sentencing in March of this year, he had asked for his wife to face no prison time, despite previously blaming her for the then-alleged crimes, saying she was the one handling the finances.
The prosecution’s sentencing memorandum states the Hunters were “virtually penniless” and amid dire financial straits and resorted to using campaign credit cards to support “a profligate lifestyle leading to continual debt and an ever-increasing need to find cash to pay bills.”
Despite the family bank account not carrying a positive balance throughout any single month between 2009 and 2017, prosecutors say the family lived extravagantly.
Prosecutors also say in court filings that Duncan Hunter gave his wife a campaign credit card despite her having no official role in his campaign, and later hired her as campaign manager amid protests from members of his staff.
Duncan Hunter stepped down from his congressional committee assignments in 2018, but still won re-election for the 50th Congressional District seat. He resigned from Congress in January of this year, submitting his resignation to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and California Governor Gavin Newsom. The seat remained vacant since then, with no special election.
From the results of the primaries, Ammar Campa-Najjar and Darrell Issa look to fill that seat come the November election.