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Edwards 'not guilty' in corruption case
Ex-US senator and presidential hopeful found not guilty on one fraud charge with mistrial declared on five other counts.
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2012 02:45

John Edwards, the former US senator and candidate for the US presidency, has been found not guilty on one charge of accepting illegal campaign contributions, while a mistrial has been declared on five other similar charges.

The jury was unable on Thursday to reach a unanimous verdict on the five further counts related to an alleged conspiracy to cover up illegal campaign contributions from supporters in excess of legal limits.

Earlier, Catherine Eagles, the judge, had been forced to declare a short recess, after the jury emerged from deliberations ready to declare a verdict on just the single count.

The prosecution then demanded that the jury be sent back, while the defence wanted the verdict on the one count to be announced and a mistrial declared on the remaining five.

Eagles then sent the jury back to continue deliberations. After they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the other charges, she accepted their verdict on one charge and declared a mistrial on the rest.

Disgraced former senator

Edwards, 58, has pleaded not guilty to violating campaign finance laws by taking nearly $1m from two wealthy donors to hide his affair with videographer Rielle Hunter during his 2008 bid for the presidency.

The one count on which a verdict was reached concerned the alleged illegal use of a 2008 donation from Rachel Mellon, the widow of banking heir Paul Mellon.

The disgraced politician saw his career collapse after he fathered a child with Hunter in 2007 and then lied about their affair to his cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth, and the public.

After the verdict was announced, Edwards maintained his innocence and choked up as he spoke of his affection for the four-year-old daughter he fathered with then mistress Rielle Hunter. 

"While I do not believe I did anything illegal, or ever thought I was doing anything illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong, and there is no one else responsible for my sins," Edwards said in front of the federal courthouse in Greensboro on Thursday, flanked by his parents and 30-year-old daughter, Cate, who stood by him throughout the proceedings.

"I am responsible, and if I want to find the person who should be held accountable for my sins, honestly I don't have to go any further than the mirror. It's me. It is me and me alone."

He went on to call his child with Hunter "my precious Quinn, who I love more than any of you could ever imagine" and said he still hoped to one day help the country's poor children. 

Edwards, who engaged in the affair during his second bid for the Democratic nomination for the US presidency, faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.5m in fines if convicted.

His lawyers argue that the ex-Senator never knew that taking the money violated campaign finance law, and that his personal transgressions were not illegal.

Mellon, who is 101 years old, did not testify, and Baron died in 2008. Elizabeth, Edwards' wife, died in late 2010.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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