Kinde Durkee pleads guilty to $7 million embezzlement scheme www.privateofficer.com
Durkee entered guilty pleas to five counts of mail fraud at the Robert T. Matsui United States Courthouse in Sacramento this morning before U.S. District Judge Kimberly J Mueller. Federal prosecutors say the veteran campaign treasurer misappropriated money from the accounts of at least 50 clients, including Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Durkee remains free pending sentencing on June 20. She faces 11 to 14 years in prison.
A document filed with the court this week said she siphoned millions from her clients’ accounts to cover business expenses such as payroll for her Burbank firm, Durkee & Associates, provide care and services for her elderly mother and pay personal credit card bills. She also transferred money between accounts to try to the hide the embezzlement from clients and investigators. Prosecutors said Friday that Durkee may have taken as much as $20 million.
Durkee, who ran the Burbank-based Durkee & Associates, was arrested in September on suspicion of committing mail fraud by submitting falsified campaign finance reports to elections officials. The investigation was sparked by irregularities uncovered during a Fair Political Practices Commission audit.
Despite a history of fines for campaign disclosure violations issued by the state Fair Political Practices Commission, Durkee maintained a client list that included some of California’s most prominent Democratic politicians, political organizations and nonprofits.
Several clients, including Feinstein, have sued Durkee and the bank where their assets were held in hopes of recouping some of the lost money.