Former Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter was sentenced Tuesday to 11 months in prison and three years of parole for corruption charges stemming from his misuse of more than $200,000 in campaign funds for a slew of personal expenses.
Hunter pleaded guilty in December to one count of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds. He sat expressionless as the sentence was handed down and said during the hearing that he takes “full responsibility for any dime that was spent by me or anyone else on my campaign.”
Hunter will be on supervised release for three years and must participate in a drug and alcohol treatment program, and he will be housed somewhere in the western region of the United States.
Assistant US Attorney Phillip Halpern had asked for a 14-month sentence for Hunter and took on the former Marine’s character in an 87-page sentencing recommendation.
“Defendant Duncan Hunter launched an improper, wide ranging, and dangerous assault on our system of justice,” the document began.
“As part of a disingenuous attempt to deflect attention away from his own criminal conduct, Hunter repeatedly attacked this nation’s very system of government, including Congress, the FBI, the Department of Justice in general, and individual federal prosecutors in particular.”
But Hunter’s lawyers argued their client served his country with honor and distinction, admitted he broke the law and should serve 11 months of home detention and complete 1,000 hours of community service
“Home detention, moreover, is a substantial deprivation of liberty,” Hunter’s team wrote in its sentencing recommendation.
“It is a 24/7 restriction to the home with narrowly-tailored exceptions for community service, work, medical treatment, and church attendance.”
Hunter’s lawyer Devin Burstein said in an email to CNN the prosecution’s memo is a distraction from reality.
“If there was anything close to an attack on our system of justice, as the government’s memo claims, surely it would not have offered a plea deal to a single conspiracy count with a few overt acts and a sentencing range of 8 to 14 years,” Burstein said.
Duncan and his wife Margaret Hunter were indicted in August 2018 for using funds to pay for personal expenses, leading him to step down from his congressional committee assignments though he later went on to win reelection.
Hunter resigned from Congress in January, after winning reelection in California’s staunchly conservative 50th district, which encompasses much of eastern San Diego County.
The prosecutor wrote that the Hunters were virtually penniless and used the campaign funds to furnish a lavish lifestyle.
Federal prosecutors charged that Hunter had fraudulently spent more than $200,000 on expenses that included a $14,000 Italian vacation and thousands of dollars on routine items like groceries, bedding and other household items.
Margaret pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring with her husband to use $25,000 in campaign funds for personal use, and is yet to be sentenced.
Duncan Hunter appeared to blame his wife for the then-alleged crimes in a television interview at the time, saying she was the one handling his finances.
During his sentencing hearing, Duncan Hunter asked the judge for no prison time for his wife, Margaret, mother of their three children.
“Hunter’s public (and private) statements throwing his wife and family ‘under the bus’ were reprehensible,” Halpern wrote in his sentencing recommendation.