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

Margaret Hunter sentencing for campaign fund misuse delayed another month

The wife of former Rep. Duncan Hunter had her hearing postponed to June 8 which will be nearly one year since she pleaded guilty to misusing campaign credit cards.

SAN DIEGO — Sentencing has been delayed another month for the wife of former Rep. Duncan Hunter, who pleaded guilty along with her husband to federal conspiracy charges for misusing campaign funds to support years of personal expenditures.

Margaret Hunter was slated to be sentenced next Monday, but the hearing was postponed to June 8, which will be nearly one year since she pleaded guilty to using campaign credit cards on family vacations, restaurant and bar tabs, clothes and other frivolous expenses over the course of several years.

Prosecutors say the couple spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, with the former congressman falsely reporting the expenses as campaign-related.

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Duncan Hunter pleaded guilty about six months after his wife and was sentenced earlier this year to 11 months in federal prison. He's slated to surrender to authorities on May 29.

In a joint motion filed last week by prosecutors and Margaret Hunter's attorneys, both parties cited COVID-19 considerations in requesting a delay. The public health crisis has pared down federal court proceedings, with many hearings suspended in the interest of slowing the spread of the virus.

U.S. District Judge Thomas J. Whelan approved the joint continuance request on Monday.

The Hunters were charged in 2018 in a 60-count indictment.

At Duncan Hunter's sentencing hearing, he asked Whelan for leniency and sympathy when he sentences "the mother of my children," asking the judge not to give her time in custody "if it's possible."

In the prosecution's sentencing memorandum, it states the Hunters were "virtually penniless" and amid dire financial straits, 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, according to the memorandum.

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