Prosecutors expect to recover little of $7 million in Durkee fraud case
In accepting former campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee’s guilty plea Friday in a $7-million fraud case, federal prosecutors said it appears she spent almost all of the money, so only a small fraction will be recovered for the 50 victims including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
U.S. Atty. Benjamin B. Wagner said Durkee may have taken as much as $10 million, and an investigation is continuing to pinpoint the amount, but he does not see much left over for restitution.
"It’s essentially spent, from what we can tell," Wagner told reporters at his office in Sacramento after Durkee pleaded guilty to five counts of mail fraud.
"It may be that we will never be able to determine exactly where all of it went," he added. Prosecutors recommended to U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller on Friday that Durkee spend a little more than 11 years in prison, the low end of the sentencing guidelines, but a decision was put off until June 20.
Durkee appeared in court in a black pants-suit, her face somber as she provided short answers to the judge when asked if she wanted to plead guilty. Afterward, she declined comment, but her attorney, Daniel V. Nixon, said he would argue for a lesser sentence than the 135 months under consideration.
"She is accepting full responsibility for her actions and she has come to court today to acknowledge what she has done," Nixon told reporters outside the courtroom. "She is remorseful."
Wagner said the case appears to be the largest embezzlement scheme ever by a campaign treasurer. ''Her casual embezzlements over a decade added up to devastation for many of her clients," Wagner said. "Like any fraudster, she depended on trust to perpetuate and conceal her scheme.''
Photo: Kinde Durkee. Credit: Henry Vandermeir / Associated Press