Margaret Hunter accepts plea deal

Photo by Rick Eaton. Margaret Hunter stands outside the U.S. District Court in downtown San Diego on Thursday, June 13, 2019. Hunter pleaded guilty to one charge listed in the indictment against her as part of a plea agreement.

Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty June 13 to conspiracy to use funds from the congressional campaign of her husband, Duncan D. Hunter, and has agreed to testify in his upcoming fraud trial.

Margaret Hunter, 44, of Alpine, faces up to five years in federal prison when she is sentenced on Sept. 16, which is about a week after her husband’s trial will start in U.S. District Court in San Diego.

Duncan Hunter, 42, (R-Alpine) has pleaded not guilty to 43 counts of wire fraud, 13 counts of falsifying records from campaign finances from 2009 to 2016, conspiracy and three counts of prohibited use of campaign funds.

Nothing was said in court about Margaret testifying against her estranged husband, but she signed a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office that specifically mentions her testifying as a witness.

She agreed to “make a good faith effort to provide substantial assistance” in the investigation “and prosecution of others,” the agreement states.

Hunter also agreed to be interviewed by federal and state law enforcement agents. If she gives false, incomplete or misleading info, that could be considered “a breach of this agreement,” it states.

Outside the courtroom, her attorney, Thomas McNamara, read to reporters a written statement by Margaret Hunter, who left.

“Earlier this morning, I entered a guilty plea in the United States District Court,” read McNamara. “In doing so I have fully accepted responsibility for my conduct.

“I am deeply remorseful and I apologize. I am saddened for the hurt that I have caused my family and others,” read her attorney.

“I understand there will be more consequences stemming from my actions, but as demonstrated this morning in entering the plea, I have taken the first step to face those consequences,” the statement said.

Later, Duncan Hunter issued this statement: “It’s obvious that the Department of Justice (DOJ) went after her to get to me for political reasons.
“The DOJ purposely choosing to involve itself in the area where the FEC has primary jurisdiction reveals that their primary agenda was to inflict as much political damage as possible in hopes of picking up a congressional seat,” said Duncan Hunter.

Duncan Hunter also told a television reporter the prosecutors are “Hilary lawyers” who “bludgeoned my wife” to get to him.

Duncan Hunter previously has said that his wife was his campaign manager and she did all of the alleged wrongdoing. He says he did not charge the campaign credit cards for things that are not election related, though the indictment says otherwise.

Both Hunters are described in the indictment of charging groceries, play tickets, a trip to Italy and alcoholic drinks to their campaign credit cards.

Hunter said his teenage son mistakenly used some of the cards for video games.

Two years ago, Duncan Hunter reimbursed his campaign $60,000 from his own pocket. At the time, he said that should have closed the case.

However, the indictment alleges that the Hunters ran up to $250,000 in expenses on their campaign funds that are barred from being used for non-campaign items.

Margaret Hunter’s plea agreement states that if she “has provided substantial assistance” the U.S. Attorney may file a motion to reduce her sentence.

The couple no longer live together and he has moved in with his father, a former Republican congressman, to save money while he is in Washington, D.C.

Hunter and Margaret Hunter remain free on $15,000 and $10,000 bond respectively.