By Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association
Photo: Rep. Duncan D. Hunter and his wife, Margaret, are seen in La Mesa at 2014 Polonia United event for Polish-Americans in the San Diego region. Photo by Miriam Raftery
October 22, 2019 (San Diego) - Giving prosecutors more time to bolster their corruption case against Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, the congressman’s wife has asked that her federal sentencing be delayed four months.
Lawyers for Margaret Hunter and her estranged husband, the indicted Alpine Republican, on Tuesday jointly asked Judge Thomas J. Whelan to delay the date she learns her fate after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy.
“The parties respectfully request that Ms. Hunter’s sentencing hearing be rescheduled for April 6, 2019 (or any other convenient date for the Court), so that the trial and sentencing of co-defendant Duncan Hunter is able to be completed prior to Ms. Hunter’s sentencing hearing in light of her ongoing cooperation obligations,” said the joint motion.
Margaret Hunter could get up to five years in prison, but her cooperation with prosecutors — including testimony at Duncan Hunter’s criminal trial — may yield a lighter penalty.
The Hunters 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 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.
“I am aware that the parties have jointly moved to continue my sentencing hearing, currently scheduled for December 2, 2019 at 9 a.m.,” Margaret Hunter declared in a court filing. “I hereby acknowledge my responsibility to appear at Court on April 6, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. or on any other date ordered by the Court for my sentencing.”
Margaret Hunter has a different set of lawyers than the six-term incumbent House member. Her attorneys are Logan D. Smith and Thomas W. McNamara.
Duncan Hunter’s lawyers in district court are Gregory A. Vega, Ricardo Arias and Philip B. Adams. But Devin Burstein is representing Hunter Dec. 12 at a 9th Circuit hearing in Seattle.
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.