Ex-Louisiana Senator Pleads Guilty to Gambling With Campaign Cash

  • Former Senator Karen Carter Peterson resigned due to depression and a gambling addiction
  • She took $94,000 worth of campaign funds and used the money for personal expenditure
  • Her sentencing will take place on December 7, with the max sentence set at 20 years
  • The Democratic Party wants to move on from the case and has confirmed the money was repaid
Guilty symbol with gavel
Former Louisiana Senator Karen Carter Peterson has pleaded guilty to using campaign funds for gambling purposes. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Confession in court

A former Senator and leader of the Louisiana Democratic Party has pleaded guilty to gambling with campaign cash.

Karen Carter Peterson resigned from the Louisiana Senate in April as she was dealing with a gambling addiction and depression. She entered her guilty plea on Monday in a US District Court relating to a single count of wire fraud. A federal probe uncovered Peterson’s offenses.

used $94,000 worth of campaign funds

The former Democratic Party Chief used $94,000 worth of campaign funds for personal expenditure, including gambling at casinos.

In order to access the funds, Peterson wrote checks to associates and friends who would then cash them and give the money to her. She had made arrangements to claim an additional $53,000 worth of party funds using associates she had lined up to hire. Officials are yet to identify these associates.

A hefty potential sentence

As reported by WBRZ2, the sentencing in the case will take place on December 7, with her felony charge carrying a max term of 20 years. It is unclear as to what level of sentence the 52-year-old is facing as she signed a plea deal and did cooperate with the prosecutors.

Earlier in July, the politician’s attorney outlined how his client had already paid back all of the money she had fraudulently taken. Peterson also issued an apology for her actions, saying: “I sincerely apologize for the impact from my compulsive behavior resulting from this addiction.”

The attorney will have until November 30 to file any arguments prior to the sentencing.

Karen Carter Peterson was the Louisiana Democratic Party chair between 2012 and 2020, having been first elected to the House in 1999 and to the Senate in 2010.

Betraying the public’s trust

Naturally, the exposure of Peterson’s offenses caused waves within Louisiana and further afield. It prompted concern that such a prominent politician could betray the public’s trust.

allows us to close that chapter of the Louisiana Democratic Party”

After officials charged Peterson, the current Louisiana Democratic Party chair Katie Bernhardt issued a statement on the matter. She confirmed that Peterson had paid restitution and that it “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.”

This isn’t the first time a US politician has misappropriated funds for gambling purposes. In October, Connecticut State Representative Michael DiMassa was accused of stealing more than $636,000 in federal COVID-19 relief funds and using some of the money to engage in casino gambling.