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Campaign Account Manager Admits to Mult-Million Dollar Ponzi Scheme



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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, March 30, 2012

Durkee admitted to embezzling at least $ 7 million dollars from campaign coffers. 

On Friday, she pleaded guilty to five counts of mail fraud.  

U.S. Attorney Ben Wagner says Durkee managed 400 campaign accounts during the past decade.

WAGNER: "When there's a long-running scheme like this it's astonishing to victims, to us as investigators and prosecutors, and sometimes to the defendants themselves just how much money they were able to burn through over a long period of time."

The state's Fair Political Practices Commission raised suspicions of her accounting practices.

WAGNER:  "With their help, we broadened the investigation, began looking at more accounts.  As is commonly the case in ponzi  schemes  and other fraud schemes of this sort, the more rocks you turn over, the more you find and it essentially unraveled the entire scheme."

Wagner says Durkee used the stolen money to pay for mostly "mundane" items, like her mortgage, business payroll, and mother's rest home expenses.

She will likely be sentenced to between 11 and 14 years in prison depending on how many victims there are.  She admits to falsely reporting campaign account balances of at least 10 candidates.  Wagner believes there are at least 50.

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