John Edwards Indicted for Using Campaign Funds to Hide Affair

 Evan Agostini/Getty Images

After turning down the opportunity to reach a plea agreement, former North Carolina senator John Edwards was indicted Friday morning on six counts: one count of conspiracy, four counts of illegal contributions, and one count of false statements. If convicted, he could face five years in prison and six-figure fines.

The charges date back to August 2008, when the 57-year-old admitted to having an extramarital affair with his mistress, Rielle Hunter, 47, with whom admitted fathering a daughter with in 2010. The Democrat has since been involved in a two-year jury investigation about whether he allegedly used more than $900,000 in campaign funds to hide his extramarital affair in order to protect his reputation and bid.

"As this indictment shows, we will not permit candidates for high office to abuse their special ability to access the coffers of their political supporters to circumvent our election laws," said Assistant U.S. Attorney General Lanny Breuer in a statement.

The New York Times writes, "Mr. Edwards has maintained that he used the money to hide the affair, but for private purposes — to conceal it from his wife."

The scandal caused Edwards and his wife, the late Elizabeth Edwards, to separate in 2008. They never officially divorced. Elizabeth passed away in December 2010 at age 61 after a six-year battle with breast cancer. 

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