Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife, Margaret, are scheduled to be back in court Dec. 3 for a status conference on charges they illegally used more than $250,000 in campaign funds to fund their lavish lifestyles and filed false campaign finance records to cover it up.
The couple appeared in federal court in downtown San Diego Monday morning where their attorneys asked for more time to go through the thousands of pages of documents amassed in the case as part of the federal probe.
Thomas McNamara, the attorney for Margaret Hunter, asked U.S. District Judge Thomas J. Whelan to give the defense “several months” before scheduling another status conference, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Allen said that was too long for what she characterized as a straightforward embezzlement case.
“This is a very simple case, when it comes down to it,’’ Allen told the judge, noting the government’s speedy trial rights.
McNamara said it took the government 2 1/2 years to investigate the case. “It’s not a simple case for us,” McNamara said.
Whelan set the new hearing two months out, citing the amount of documents and saying it was in the interest of justice. With more than 200 overt acts alleged in a 60-count indictment, the judge said the defense request was not “unreasonable.’’
The Republican congressman and his wife — who arrived in court separately — were greeted outside the courthouse by more than a dozen demonstrators. At one point, some in the group chanted, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Duncan Hunter must go,” as one man beat on a drum.
Last month, Duncan Hunter and Margaret Hunter pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, falsification of records and aiding and abetting in the prohibited use of campaign contributions.
According to the indictment, the Hunters used campaign funds to pay for trips, meals, video games, private school tuition, oral surgery and a garage door for their Alpine home.
Hunter also reported spending $600 on an airline ticket to fly the family pet rabbit across the country.
After the brief hearing Monday, Duncan Hunter was trailed by protesters and photographers as he left the courthouse, crossed Front Street and ducked into an office building. Some could be heard chanting, “Lock him up.”
One protester dressed in a rabbit costume, held a sign that read, “Hoppy trail to jail.”
Attorneys for Duncan Hunter and Margaret Hunter did not make statements to reporters outside the courthouse.
City News Service contributed to this report.