published Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Federal prosecutors drop case against John Edwards

  • photo
    Ex-presidential candidate John Edwards speaks outside a federal courthouse as his father, Wallace Edwards, right, listen after his campaign finance fraud case ended in a mistrial Thursday, May 31, 2012 in Greensboro, N.C. Jurors acquitted Edwards on one charge and deadlocked on the other five, unable to decide whether he used money from two wealthy donors to hide his pregnant mistress while he ran for president and his wife was dying of cancer. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

MICHAEL BIESECKER

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Federal prosecutors dropped all charges Wednesday against John Edwards after his corruption trial ended last month in a deadlocked jury.

Jurors in North Carolina acquitted the former presidential candidate on one count of accepting illegal campaign contributions and deadlocked on five other felony counts. The judge declared a mistrial.

Prosecutors will not seek to retry Edwards on the five unresolved counts, according to a U.S. Justice Department statement.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, who oversees the agency's criminal division, said prosecutors knew the case, like all campaign finance cases, would be challenging. But he said it is "our duty to bring hard cases" when warranted.

"Last month, the government put forward its best case against Mr. Edwards, and I am proud of the skilled and professional way in which our prosecutors.... conducted this trial," he said.

Edwards was accused of masterminding a scheme to use about $1 million in secret payments from two wealthy political donors to hide his pregnant mistress as he sought the White House in 2008.

Edwards' lawyers — Abbe Lowell, Allison Van Laningham and Alan W. Duncan — said in a joint statement that they are pleased with the government's decision not to seek a second trial that they believe would have had the same outcome.

"While John has repeatedly admitted to his sins, he has also consistently asserted, as we demonstrated at the trial, that he did not violate any campaign law nor even imagined that any campaign laws could apply," they said. "We are very glad that, after living under this cloud for over three years, John and his family can have their lives back and enjoy the peace they deserve."

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