Jurors in North Carolina on May 31 acquitted John Edwards of one count of accepting illegal campaign contributions and deadlocked on five other felony counts. The judge declared a mistrial.
DURHAM, N.C. — A year after indicting former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on campaign-finance fraud charges, the Justice Department on Wednesday dismissed all remaining charges against the former North Carolina senator.
The dismissal came nearly two weeks after a federal jury in Greensboro, N.C., acquitted Edwards of one felony charge and deadlocked on five others, prompting a mistrial.
Jurors later said prosecutors did not offer convincing evidence that Edwards had used campaign donations to hide his pregnant mistress in an attempt to save his campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination from scandal.
“We knew that this case — like all campaign-finance cases — would be challenging,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “But it is our duty to bring hard cases when we believe that the facts and the law support charging a candidate for high office with a crime.”
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Edwards’ lawyers had argued that payments of $925,000 from two wealthy benefactors were private gifts intended to hide Edwards’ affair with videographer Rielle Hunter from his cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth Edwards. They called the indictment by a Republican prosecutor in Raleigh, N.C., politically motivated and accused the Justice Department of wasting taxpayer money prosecuting a philandering husband.
Jury members said in post-trial interviews that they did not believe the testimony of Andrew Young, formerly an adoring acolyte and aide to Edwards who turned against him and testified for the prosecution in return for immunity.
With their star witness compromised by his previous lies and contradictions, prosecutors could not link Edwards to campaign contributions.
Edwards’ oldest daughter, Cate Edwards, 30, a lawyer who sat behind her father throughout the trial, wrote on her Twitter account Wednesday: “Big sigh of relief. Ready to move forward with life.”
There was no immediate comment from John Edwards, who lives with two other children in a mansion near Chapel Hill, N.C.
He also fathered a daughter with Hunter.
Edwards, 59, a wealthy personal-injury lawyer and the 2004 Democratic vice-presidential nominee, had faced up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines if convicted of all charges.