A former Louisiana State Senator and chair of the state’s Democrat Party was sentenced to 22 months in prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to federal wire fraud.
Karen Carter Peterson made headlines in April 2022 when she resigned from the Louisiana state senate after twenty-two years, citing her poor mental health and a gambling addiction.
Months later, an August federal probe accused Peterson of stealing campaign funds to gamble with. The 53-year-old admitted she stole over $140,000 from her 2019 reelection campaign and the Louisiana Democrat party’s funding to fuel her addiction. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Florida Dem Candidate May Have Illegally Transferred Campaign Assets, Complaint Alleges)
Karen Carter Peterson has entered court and is awaiting sentencing for a federal wire fraud charge. https://t.co/jdeAXZ9uEF pic.twitter.com/CEEOpHQtJf
— wdsu (@wdsu) January 11, 2023
Peterson had served for twenty-two years in the Louisiana legislature and chaired the state’s Democrat party from 2012-2020. Her lawyers blamed her gambling problem on a “diminished mental capacity,” and pushed for U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance to keep her out of prison because of this, according to NOLA News.
Peterson’s counsel contested the lifelong Democrat should be let off with probation or house arrest charges but Louisiana prosecutors refused. The prominent Democrat’s acknowledgment of her wrongdoing “after learning of the well-advanced federal investigation, while commendable, do not offset her wrongdoing completely,” prosecutors wrote.
The court slammed Peterson for her “betrayal of the public trust and exploitation of the awesome power she wielded as a candidate for public office and leader of a major political party to seek personal pecuniary gain.”
The six alleged accomplices Peterson worked with to pull off stealing campaign money have yet to be charged or identified publicly.
Peterson’s sentence will begin March 6.