Former Louisiana Democratic Party chair and state Senator Karen Carter Peterson, who was endorsed by Black Lives Matter, was sentenced to 22 months in prison on Wednesday for wire fraud that involved stealing from the DNC and then gambling away the funds at casinos.
(Video Credit: WWLTV)
Peterson resigned in April and was charged a month later with wire fraud. She confessed to the crime and asserted she has a gambling problem. The former politico pled guilty to funneling $147,000 of campaign and party funds to individuals and companies who would cash the checks and then give the money to Peterson. The scheme spanned seven years, according to the Louisiana Illuminator.
The Department of Justice wrote in a July press release last year that Peterson filed “false and misleading” campaign finance reports to cover up the theft.
“Today marks an important step in my life-long recovery as I continue to address my gambling addiction. I sincerely apologize for the impact from my compulsive behavior resulting from this addiction,” Peterson tweeted.
“I have made full repayment of funds used as a result of my addiction and I will continue to make amends,” she asserted. “Staying true to the steps of my ongoing recovery, I have been forthright, honest, and fully cooperative with the US Attorneys’ Office in their investigation.”
I have made full repayment of funds used as a result of my addiction and I will continue to make amends.
Staying true to the steps of my ongoing recovery, I have been forthright, honest,and fully cooperative with the US Attorneys’ Office in their investigation. #gamblingrecovery
— KarenCarterPeterson (@TeamKCP) July 14, 2022
Yesterday was my last day in the Senate Chamber. https://t.co/xviOZcL6c1 Today is my last day as a Louisiana Legislator. Grateful for the opportunity to serve, now focusing on self-care. #lalege 1999-2022 pic.twitter.com/1XwlQeHNkA
— KarenCarterPeterson (@TeamKCP) April 8, 2022
“I am humiliated and remorseful for my actions,” Peterson wrote to U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance, a judicial appointee of President Bill Clinton, in a September letter seeking leniency for her actions. “I have spent my entire adult life in public service, trying to help people and make a difference. It pains me greatly knowing I have betrayed that trust and undermined people’s confidence in our system of governance and the legal profession. I built a long and storied reputation for integrity and honesty and sadly let my constituents and the profession down.”
Former state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson is now addressing federal Judge Sarah Vance: “I failed when I was dishonest” #fox8nola
— Sabrina Wilson (@Sabrinafox8news) January 11, 2023
Fox News is reporting that Peterson is the only federal politician to be endorsed by Black Lives Matter since January 2021.
According to federal records, the Black Lives Matter PAC spent $100,000 to help Peterson’s campaign for Louisiana’s Second Congressional District get her elected. It failed to do so.
“I want to tell everyone who contributed to my campaign and the Democratic Party, I am sorry,” Peterson told the court before being sentenced. “This criminal case against me is what it finally took to get healthy. I have changed my life.”
Peterson, 53, has been ordered to report to federal prison on March 6 by a judge. She declined to comment as she left the federal courthouse in downtown New Orleans.
Former Senator Karen Carter Peterson declined comment as she left the federal courthouse after being sentenced to 22 months in prison for using campaign and Democratic Party funds to feed her gambling addiction. @WWLTV
— Paul Murphy (@PMurphyWWL) January 11, 2023
She served 22 years in both chambers of the Louisiana Legislature and faced term limits before she stepped down early last year. She was the only outspoken opponent of abortion restrictions in the Senate.
State Rep. Royce Duplessis won a special election in November to take Peterson’s seat in the New Orleans district.
Former Louisiana State Senator and Chair of State Political Party Sentenced to 22 Months' Imprisonment for Role in Nearly Seven-Year Scheme to Defraud Campaign Entity, Donors, and Political Party Organization: Karen Carter Peterson of New Orleans has be… https://t.co/Ofb1qosC1n
— FBI New Orleans (@FBINewOrleans) January 12, 2023
WWL-TV political analyst Clancy Dubos called Peterson’s conviction a tragedy on many levels.
“She’s a strong person,” DuBos commented. “I think when her sentence is fulfilled, with good time she will probably be out in a little less than 19 months. That’s still a significant time to be behind bars.”
“I would not be surprised if she continues to serve, not in politics because she’s giving that up,” he added. “But as she has talked about, trying to mentor others who suffer from addiction.”
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