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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Judge approves delaying former congressman Duncan Hunter's surrender date as far as 2021

Duncan Hunter, who pleaded guilty last year to a federal conspiracy charge for misusing campaign funds, was sentenced in March to 11 months in federal prison.

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego federal judge Thursday approved a joint request from the federal government and Duncan Hunter's attorney to delay the ex-congressman's self-surrender date until as late as the first week of January to begin serving an 11-month prison sentence for misusing campaign funds.

The motion filed Tuesday states "this extension is appropriate due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the unknown impacts the disease will have in the coming months."

Hunter, 43, who pleaded guilty last year to a federal conspiracy charge for misusing campaign funds, was sentenced in March to 11 months in federal prison, with his surrender date originally slated for May 29.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan granted the joint request and ordered Hunter to surrender on or before noon, Jan. 4, 2021.

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The motion stated that in exchange for the government agreeing to the motion, Hunter will not seek any sentence modification or pre-surrender credit for home confinement prior to serving his prison term.

Hunter's wife, Margaret, pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge last summer. Her sentencing has been delayed numerous times, with recent continuances related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is currently set for June 8.

The Hunters were charged in 2018 in a 60-count indictment, which alleged they used campaign credit cards to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on family vacations, restaurant and bar tabs, clothes and other frivolous expenses over the course of several years.

The prosecution's sentencing memorandum states the Hunters were "virtually penniless" and amid dire financial straits and resorted to using campaign credit cards to support "a profligate lifestyle leading to continual debt and an ever-increasing need to find cash to pay bills."

Despite the family bank account not carrying a positive balance throughout any single month between 2009 and 2017, prosecutors say the family lived extravagantly, racking up thousands of dollars on expensive family trips and scores of other improper personal purchases.

Prosecutors also say in court filings that Duncan Hunter gave his wife a campaign credit card despite her having no official role in his campaign, and later hired her as campaign manager amid protests from members of his staff.