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Prosecutors wrap case in Edwards corruption trial

By Ted Metzger, Adam Reiss and Joe Johns, CNN
updated 6:53 PM EDT, Thu May 10, 2012
John Edwards is sketched at his trial on Thursday. On the witness stand is New York businessman Leo Hindery..
John Edwards is sketched at his trial on Thursday. On the witness stand is New York businessman Leo Hindery..
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Prosecutors wrapped up their case in the John Edwards corruption trial
  • They detailed hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses used by ex-mistress
  • Edwards faces six felony courts, including conspiracy and making false statements

Greensboro, North Carolina (CNN) -- Prosecutors wrapped up their case in the John Edwards corruption trial Thursday, detailing hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses used by his former mistress, whose concealment during Edwards' failed presidential run remains at the heart of the scandal.

They say the expenses ranged from luxury hotels to private jets to high-priced rental homes largely paid for by Fred Baron, a now-deceased Texas lawyer who was Edwards' finance chairman.

Prosecutors did not call to the stand Rielle Hunter, the North Carolina Democrat's ex-mistress and the mother of his youngest child.

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They say Edwards used donor funds to hide Hunter and their daughter, Quinn, in an effort to keep his candidacy viable.

Edwards broke federal law, they allege, by accepting about $725,000 from heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon for that purpose and more than $200,000 from Baron.

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Edwards' defense team has argued that Andrew Young, a political aide, had largely used the money for his own personal gain, also paying for Hunter's medical expenses during her pregnancy to hide the affair from Edwards' wife. Donations for that purpose, the defense has argued, cannot be considered in violation of campaign finance laws.

Edwards faces six felony courts, including conspiracy and making false statements.

Young admitted earlier during questioning that he used some donations for his own personal benefit -- particularly to fund construction of a home that included a pool and a theater.

On Tuesday, an Edwards donor testified that he told the Barack Obama campaign to believe rumors of Edwards' affair as early as June 2008.

Prosecution witness Tim Toben, a developer and green energy entrepreneur, said during cross-examination that during a dinner with Edwards, the candidate was optimistic about his chances of his being selected as Obama's running mate.

The message from Edwards was that if he were to be offered the position, he would take it, Toben testified.

The witness said he found the idea "astonishing," given the then-rampant rumors of Edwards' affair and child with Hunter.

After the dinner, Toben testified, he called the North Carolina director of the Obama campaign, saying reports about Edwards' affair were true and encouraged the campaign to vet the information thoroughly as it decided on its pick.

If convicted, Edwards could face up to 30 years behind bars.

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