NEW ORLEANS – Former state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson was charged Thursday with wire fraud and aiding and abetting after she paid $50,000 in restitution to Louisiana’s Democratic Party for gambling with campaign funds.
The Advocate reported Peterson’s lawyer, Brian Capitelli, said the restitution money was an important step in the ex-senator’s journey to recover from her gambling addiction.
According to the Department of Justice, Peterson was charged Thursday, and if she is convicted of the charges, she will face a maximum of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and up to 3 years of supervised release.
Peterson resigned from the Louisiana Legislature in early April, saying she needed to focus on her mental health and recovery from her gambling addiction.
The Louisiana Democratic Party released the following statement about the charges against their former chair Thursday afternoon:
Today, federal authorities charged Senator Karen Carter Peterson with wire fraud committed in her former capacity as the Chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party. A plea deal has been signed, and we are confident that any wrongdoings will be brought to justice.
Since Senator Peterson’s tenure as chair concluded nearly two years ago, the Louisiana Democratic Party has gone through extensive lengths to increase transparency and ensure the highest level of scrutiny in financial reporting under the leadership of new party chair, Katie Bernhardt. Among other initiatives, these efforts include: retaining the services of a nationally reputable compliance company; the transformation of internal operations for added checks and balances; increasing viewing privileges of accounting software to ensure financial oversight by numerous people; and clear monthly reporting to the party’s executive committee. In addition, LDP is in the final stages of retaining the comptrolling services of a company that has significant experience working with other democratic parties across the country.
“When I ran for chair two years ago, I heard the call for a complete overhaul of the Louisiana Democratic Party loud and clear from the people of Louisiana, and that’s what we’ve done,” said Party Chair Katie Bernhardt. “Since September of 2020, we have worked tirelessly to increase transparency and transform operations to turn this into an organization that will stand the test of time. Restitution has been made on behalf of Senator Peterson, which allows us to close that chapter of the Louisiana Democratic Party as we work to restore public trust and move into a more promising future. We are proud of the progress we have made so far, and we believe we are well on our way to becoming the Democratic Party that Louisiana deserves.”
Further comment will be reserved so as not to impede the investigation.