Kinde Durkee, a long-time Democratic accountant who has kept track of the cash of scores -- hundreds -- of political campaigns, has been targeted in new federal charges alleging $7 million in fraud. The Sacramento Bee reported that Durkee is expected to plead guilty to allegations later this week.
From the Bee's Torey Van Oot: "The 17-page complaint, filed Tuesday in the United State District Court for the Eastern District of California, details fraud and embezzlement stretching back more than a decade, accusing Durkee of "routinely misappropriating" funds from clients' accounts and filing false reports with the Secretary of State and the Federal Elections Commission. The document says at least 50 victims lost a combined $7 million-plus due to her actions."
The complex case has been developing for years and came to a head in September when the FBI arrested Durkee in Southern California. The latest federal complaint details an intricate web of transactions.
From the AP's Don Thompson and Tom Verdin: "The filing details a complex shell game in which Durkee shifted campaign money to cover an array of personal and business expenses."
"In one example, $23,000 taken from Feinstein's account was used to help pay American Express credit card charges from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Amazon.com, Disneyland, Trader Joe's and Turners Outdoorsman."
"Other misappropriations from Feinstein's account covered payments for a Long Beach condominium owned by Durkee and to the 401(k) plan for her employees.
The court filing said Durkee had devised a scheme from January 2000 until she was arrested last September "to defraud clients of Durkee & Associates, and to obtain money from them by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises."
The battle over the divisive, controversial $2 billion computer project for California's court system apparently is over -- at least for now. The Judicial Council, the courts' administrative body, halted the decade-old project as flawed and too costly.
From Howard MIntz in the Mercury News: "The council chose instead to give local courts the ability to choose their own tech improvements, setting aside $8.6 million to study that issue and perhaps salvage scraps from the abandoned project."
"The computer upgrade has divided a judicial branch trying to weather more than $600 million in budget cuts over the past three years. With courts cutting hours to the public and laying off workers, the tech upgrade became a primary target of critics who said judicial leaders should abandon the project and use the money to restore or maintain other operations."
"Hundreds of court employees from the Bay Area and elsewhere rallied outside the state building in San Francisco to press for an end to the tech project."
The Bay Citizen and the Center for Investigative Reporting will merge -- the culmination of a turbulent period in Bay Area journalisim prompted in part by the surprise death of philanthropist Warren Hellman -- and provide something called "accountability journalism."
From Dan Fost in the Bay Citizen: "While technically a merger, a similar deal in the corporate world would be termed an acquisition, with Berkeley-based CIR assuming a dominant role on the board and in the management of the combined organization. No one from The Bay Citizen’s current senior editorial or technology management teams will have a leadership role in the expanded organization."
"The Bay Citizen will likely no longer cover breaking news or culture, as CIR leaders have said they see those as commodities that don’t fit the expanded organization’s core mission. CIR is also considering whether to continue providing coverage for The New York Times. The Bay Citizen’s reporting currently appears twice weekly in the Bay Area section of The Times."
"Proponents of the deal, in the works since December, say each of the two nonprofit organizations will bring its strengths to the other: CIR brings The Bay Citizen the prestige and heft of a well-established outlet that breaks state, national and international stories, while The Bay Citizen brings a fast-paced newsroom built for the Internet era, a donor and membership base of more than 8,000 and healthy cash reserves."