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What are the charges against John Edwards?

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:25 PM EDT, Thu May 31, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A jury in Greensboro, North Carolina, is deliberating six counts against Edwards
  • Allegations are that he accepted illegal contributions and falsified documents
  • Also prosecutors contend that he conspired to receive and conceal the contributions
  • Edwards is a former U.S. senator from North Carolina and former presidential candidate

(CNN) -- The jury in the trial of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is deliberating six counts stemming from allegations that he accepted illegal campaign contributions, falsified documents and conspired to receive and conceal the contributions. The maximum sentence if convicted on all six counts would be 30 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine.

Here is a breakdown of the charges against Edwards:

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Count 1: Conspiracy (maximum 5-year sentence)

Edwards, a former U.S. senator from North Carolina, is accused of conspiring to receive and conceal contributions in excess of the allowed limits from Rachel "Bunny" Mellon and Fred Baron, a now-deceased Texas lawyer who was Edwards' finance chairman. Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, the most an individual could contribute to any candidate in 2008 was $2,300 in the primary election and $2,300 in the general election.

Prosecutors argued that Edwards, while a candidate for federal office, accepted $725,000 from Mellon and more than $200,000 from Baron. Counts 2-5 reflect that accusation.

Count 2: Illegal campaign contributions (maximum 5-year sentence)

Edwards is accused of receiving contributions from Mellon in excess of federal limits in 2007.

Count 3: Illegal campaign contributions (maximum 5-year sentence)

Edwards is accused of receiving contributions from Mellon in excess of of federal limits in 2008.

Count 4: Illegal campaign contributions (maximum 5-year sentence)

Edwards is accused of receiving contributions from Baron in excess of federal limits in 2007.

Count 5: Illegal campaign contributions (maximum 5-year sentence)

Edwards is accused of receiving contributions from Baron in excess of of federal limits in 2008.

Count 6: False statements (maximum 5-year sentence)

Edwards is accused of hiding from his presidential committee the hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from Mellon and Baron, causing that committee to create and submit inaccurate campaign finance reports to the Federal Election Commission.

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