NEW ORLEANS — A former Louisiana Democratic Party leader who resigned from the state Senate earlier this year, citing depression and a gambling addiction, pleaded guilty Monday to a federal fraud charge.
Former Senator Karen Carter Peterson presented the case before U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance, court records show. Documents filed Monday outlined a scheme in which she diverted more than $94,000 in campaign funds for personal use, including for casino gambling. Prosecutors said she also arranged for an additional $53,000 in Democratic Party state money to be returned to her by employees she had hired by the party, which had not been identified as of Monday.
Carter chaired the state party from 2012 to 2020, while also serving in the legislature.
The sentencing was set for December 7. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years, but it is uncertain how severe her sentence will be after she has signed a plea deal and worked with prosecutors.
Her lawyer, Brian Capitelli, said earlier this month that she has repaid all the money fraudulently obtained. Vance has given attorneys until Nov. 30 to file arguments related to the sentence.
Peterson, 52, was elected to the state house in 1999 and to the state senate in 2010. She unsuccessfully ran for Congress twice. She lost a US House election last year to another Democrat in New Orleans, Troy Carter.
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