Former La. Sen. Karen Carter Peterson sentenced to 22 months for using campaign funds to fuel gambling addiction

Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, speaks as Sen. Beth Mizell, left, R-Franklinton, listens...
Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, speaks as Sen. Beth Mizell, left, R-Franklinton, listens in the Senate Chambers during a veto session in Baton Rouge, La., Tuesday, July 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)(Gerald Herbert | AP)
Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 6:54 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2023 at 1:22 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Former State Sen. Karen Carter Peterson was sentenced to nearly two years in prison on a federal wire fraud charge Wednesday (Jan. 11).

Peterson was disbarred after she plead guilty to the charge back in August.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance sentenced the former state lawmaker to 22 months in prison. Peterson was ordered to report to federal prison by March 6 to begin serving her time.

Peterson’s sentence also includes three years of supervised release after her prison term is completed, and she must perform 600 hours of unpaid community service.

Peterson was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $53,106.93. The convicted felon also was fined $115,000, of which the judge ordered $94,250 must be paid immediately.

The charges against Peterson came from a federal probe in which she was accused of using campaign funds to fuel her gambling addiction.


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In an emotional day at court, Peterson wiped tears from her eyes as she sought mercy from Judge Vance, saying she failed her constituents and God with her dishonesty.

“I failed my constituents, family, friends and the public who trusted me,” Peterson said. “I am an imperfect child of God.”

The U.S. Attorney’s office issued a statement that said, “People have the right to expect that their elected leaders will uphold the trust placed in them. Former State Senator Peterson illegally used campaign funds and state political party funds for her personal use during the majority of her tenure as a state senator.

“She broke the law, deceived contributors, and violated her duty to the voters and the political party with which she was affiliated on dozens of occasions. Such crimes feed public frustration, cynicism and civic disengagement. This case is proof that our office is committed to holding corrupt public officials accountable.”

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