Karen Carter Peterson, a prominent Louisiana politician trying to recover from problem gambling, is likely to soon plead guilty to a federal charge, news reports reveal. On Wednesday, she paid back $50,000 to the state’s Democratic Party after allegedly improperly using the campaign money.
It is not clear what the reported possible plea deal involving Peterson includes. But sources told The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate a guilty plea is likely.
She is the subject of a federal investigation, WVUE, a local TV station, further reported. The investigation focuses on financial questions, the newspaper said. It also is related to her problem gambling, the report adds.
Peterson was in the Louisiana state senate for a dozen years. She stepped down earlier this year. For 10 years, she earlier was a representative in the state house.
In connection with her role on the state Senate’s Judiciary Committee, she had an influential role on gambling-related legislation. Legislation that came before her included bills on sports betting, relocating water-based casinos onto land, video poker rules, and mobile fantasy sports games, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported.
Last year, she lost a close congressional race to Republican Troy Carter. She also was Louisiana Democratic Party chair between 2012 and 2020.
On the national stage, Peterson was a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee between 2017 and 2021.
This week, Peterson’s lawyer, Brian Capitelli of New Orleans, a former federal prosecutor who now represents many defendants on white collar criminal charges, said the recent moves by Peterson represent “an important step in Ms. Peterson’s recovery as she continues to address her gambling addiction.”
She is sincerely remorseful for her compulsive behavior resulting from this addiction and has made full repayment of funds used as a result of her addiction,” Capitelli told The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate. “She has been forthright, honest, and cooperative with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in their investigation.”
News about her addiction was revealed three years ago. In 2019, Peterson was issued a summons for violating a self-imposed ban on entering a casino, WWL, a local TV station, reported. She had entered the L’Auberge Baton Rouge despite putting her own name on the exclusion list.
Gambling Is Disease
“It is a disease,” she said in a social media back then about her addiction. “From time to time, I have relapsed; I have let myself down as well as family and friends who are near and dear to me.”
Then this past April, when stepping down from her political post, she announced she had gotten “inpatient and outpatient treatment for depression and addiction.”
“I want you to know that this addiction and this disease is insidious. Many people suffer from it. It’s the highest rate of suicide of all addictions.”
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