No retrial for Edwards as prosecutors drop charges

Posted: June 14, 2012

GREENSBORO, N.C. - Federal prosecutors dropped all charges Wednesday against John Edwards after his corruption trial ended last month in a deadlocked jury.

Jurors in North Carolina acquitted the former presidential candidate on one count of accepting illegal campaign contributions and deadlocked on five other felony counts. The judge declared a mistrial.

Prosecutors will not seek to retry Edwards on the five unresolved counts, according to a U.S. Justice Department statement.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, who oversees the agency's criminal division, said prosecutors had known the case, like all campaign-finance cases, would be challenging. But he said it was "our duty to bring hard cases" when warranted.

"Last month, the government put forward its best case against Mr. Edwards, and I am proud of the skilled and professional way in which our prosecutors. . . conducted this trial," he said.

Edwards was accused of masterminding a scheme to use about $1 million in secret payments from two wealthy political donors to hide his pregnant mistress as he sought the White House in 2008. He would have faced up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines if convicted of all charges.

After deliberating for nine days, jurors acquitted Edwards on a charge of accepting illegal campaign contributions, involving $375,000 from heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon in 2008. He had also been charged with illegally accepting $350,000 from Mellon in 2007, other donations from wealthy Texas attorney Fred Baron, filing a false campaign-finance report, and conspiracy.

Edwards' lawyers said in a statement that they were pleased with the government's decision not to seek a second trial that they believe would have had the same outcome.

"While John has repeatedly admitted to his sins, he has also consistently asserted, as we demonstrated at the trial, that he did not violate any campaign law nor even imagined that any campaign laws could apply," they said.

There was no immediate comment from Edwards.

His daughter Cate reacted on her Twitter account moments after prosecutors announced their decision. She had sat behind her father nearly every day of his six-week trial.

"Big sigh of relief," she tweeted. "Ready to move forward with life."

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|