By Ken Stone
The estranged wife of Rep. Duncan D. Hunter will be sentenced April 13, 2020, for her confessed role in the 14-month-old campaign spending misconduct case.
Federal Judge Thomas J. Whelan granted Margaret Hunter a 3-month delay from a Dec. 2 sentencing date after prosecutors and lawyers for her jointly asked for the change.
In his order posted Tuesday, Whelan said good cause was given for a continuance of the sentencing hearing of “Ms. Hunter.” But San Diego County court records show no divorce filing.The Hunters have been married since 1998 and have three children.
They were both charged in August 2018 with using more than $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use, including an Italian vacation. But Margaret Hunter, her husband’s former campaign manager, in June changed her plea to guilty.
Duncan Hunter has denied charges in a 60-count indictment.
Her sentencing hearing had been set for Sept. 16. But that was before the congressman appealed his case to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and saw his trial date pushed back to Jan. 14 and then Jan. 22.
Hunter’s trial is expected to take four weeks — ending only weeks before the March 3 primary election, where he faces three Republicans, a Democrat and possibly an independent in a race to make a top-two November runoff in the 50th Congressional District.
On Monday, former San Diego County District Attorney Paul Pfingst was added to the congressman’s legal team for his trial expertise.
“I have a bit of a unique background in talking about why certain expenditures would be relevant to a campaign,” Pfingst also told The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Pfingst, a 68-year-old Del Mar resident, rejected an attempt by prosecutors to remove him from the case.
“Prosecutors have challenged his association with Hunter’s defense team based on an alleged conflict of interest because another lawyer in his firm represented three witnesses in Hunter’s case during grand jury proceedings,” the U-T said, quoiting Pfingst.
“The witnesses have no problem with it,” he told the U-T. “They’ve signed waivers, my client has signed waivers, so I’m not so sure why the government is so concerned about me being on the case.”
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