Calif. Democratic campaign treasurer gets eight years for fraud

Kinde Durkee will also have to pay $10.5M for using funds from political candidates and groups on personal expenses including mortgage payments, medical bills and visits to Disneyland.

SACRAMENTO - A Democratic campaign treasurer accused of defrauding the campaign war chests of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and other California politicians was sentenced to eight years in prison and ordered to pay $10.5 million in restitution in federal court on Wednesday.

Kinde Durkee, who controlled the funds of some 400 political candidates and groups, was arrested in September 2011 and charged with criminal mail fraud. She pleaded guilty in March as part of a deal with prosecutors.

Durkee, 59, appeared in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California and was ordered by Judge Kimberly Mueller to spend 97 months in federal custody and pay $10,529,915.76 in restitution.

"I want to take this opportunity to apologize for my actions," Durkee said in court. "I take full and complete responsibility for what I have done."

The arrest of the longtime treasurer for Democratic politicians left the campaigns of a number of elected officials in disarray.

Prosecutors have said in court documents that Durkee used money siphoned from her clients to pay expenses such as the mortgage on her condominium, visits to Disneyland, charges on her credit cards, medical bills and her own firm's business costs.

Feinstein has said in documents filed with the Federal Election Commission that she lost at least $4.5 million to Durkee.

Under the terms of her plea agreement, to help make restitution to her former clients, Durkee must sell a property in Burbank, California, that had housed the offices of her now-defunct business, Durkee & Associates. She has already liquidated roughly $91,000 from her 401(k) savings account to make payment toward that restitution, her lawyer said in court.

She must turn herself in to federal custody on January 2.