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Hunter gets seven more months of freedom

The coronavirus outbreak in federal prisons was blamed for the postponement for when former Congressman Duncan Hunter is set to begin his 11-month prison term.

Hunter, 42, of Alpine, had been set to surrender on May 29, but U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Whelan ruled May 7 that he can surrender on Jan. 4, 2021.

One attorney mentioned the possible danger of COVID-19 in federal prisons during his sentencing on March 17, but at that time the outbreak wasn’t as severe as it is now.

A report on May 7 indicated a prison in Lompac had over 800 inmates who had tested positive for COVID-19. Another facility that houses ICE detainees in San Diego also has numerous inmates who have tested positive, with one death in the last week.

The U.S. Attorney’s office did not oppose the new report date, and in fact joined with Hunter’s attorneys in seeking the postponement.

“In exchange for the government’s agreement to this motion, Congressman Hunter agrees not to file a motion for sentencing modification…or to seek any form of pre-surrender credit of home confinement,” stated the motion which was filed May 5.

Hunter has been living with his father, Duncan Lee Hunter, who signed a document as his bond surety that stated he did “concur in the request to modify his self-surrender date.”

Whelan said on March 17 that he often allowed people time to surrender before starting prison sentences. “I see no reason to treat Mr. Hunter differently,” said Whelan.

Hunter pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use campaign funds from donors for his personal expenses. In 2017, Hunter paid $60,000 back to his campaign while he was under investigation.

He could have received five years in federal prison. His wife, Margaret Hunter, 44, of La Mesa, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy and will be sentenced June 8.

Fifty-nine other charges were dismissed after they pleaded guilty to conspiracy. The indictment alleged he and his wife used $250,000 of campaign funds for personal expenses.

Both Duncan and Margaret Hunter remain free on $15,000 and $10,000 bond each.

Source: East County Californian

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