• The former Louisiana senator allegedly misappropriated her state political party’s funds
  • Peterson reportedly used campaign funds for personal use
  • She resigned from her seat in April, citing gambling problems and depression

Former Louisiana senator and chair of a state political party, Karen Carter Peterson, pled guilty Monday to a federal charge of wire fraud in relation to her alleged role in defrauding campaign donors and her political party to acquire funds that were diverted to her personal use, court documents revealed. The former senator admitted to gambling addiction in 2019.

In a press release published Monday on the official website of the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Louisiana, it was stated that Peterson, who “formed and maintained a campaign organization” called the Karen Carter Peterson Campaign Fund (KCPCF), did not inform potential donors that she had “already used prior contributions for her personal benefit.”

The court documents revealed that the 52-year-old, who served as chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party for eight years, wrote checks “drawn on the KCPCF account to her friends and associates and directing them to cash the checks at financial institutions” in the New Orleans area. Peterson then directed her friends and associates to “give Peterson the proceeds.”

Peterson allegedly misappropriated funds of the Louisiana Democratic Party “for nearly seven years,” the attorney’s office said, adding that the former state senator “exploited her position” as chief of her political party to choose entities that will provide campaign-related services to the party.

Peterson then reportedly directed the entities to remit to her a portion of the money paid by the political party even if the said entities “provided either no or minimal services” for the party.

According to the court documents, Peterson received approximately $94,250 from campaign donors and contributors, and she received approximately $53,106.93 from the Louisiana Democratic Party through her schemes.

After she was charged with wire fraud on July 15, Peterson took to Twitter to address the matter. “I sincerely apologize for the impact of my compulsive behavior resulting from this addiction,” she said, adding that she has “made full repayment of funds used as a result of my addiction and I will continue to make amends.”

Peterson, who served as senator for the 5th District from 2010 through 2022, resigned from her Senate seat in April, citing gambling problems and depression, local WDSU reported. The outlet previously reported that Peterson used campaign fund donations on gambling.

In 2019, Peterson admitted to gambling addiction, New Orleans Metro News reported. Jim Singleton, a prime mover at political organization BOLD, told the outlet that Peterson “got off track,” adding that her case was “a disappointment for me, knowing her, knowing all the good things she was involved with in politics.” BOLD supported Peterson in her political career.

If convicted, Peterson is faced with a maximum jail term of 20 years, up to 3 years of supervised release after she serves prison time, a fine of up to $250,000, and a mandatory special assessment fee of $100.

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