David Duke Sentenced to 15 Months in Jail

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David Duke was sentenced yesterday to 15 months in prison and a $10,000 fine on federal mail-fraud and tax charges.

Duke -- a one-time Ku Klux Klan leader, Republican state legislator and gubernatorial candidate in Louisiana -- pleaded guilty in December to mail-fraud and tax charges. Under a plea agreement with prosecutors, he faces up to 15 months in prison and $10,000 in fines.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said Duke must report to prison by April 15. Federal guidelines require that he serve at least 85 percent of the 15-month sentence.

The mail fraud involved letters Duke sent to supporters from 1993 to 1999 urging them to give him money because he had financial problems and was in danger of losing his home. Prosecutors, however, said he sold his home for a profit during that period, held numerous investment accounts and gambled away much of his take at casinos in Mississippi, Las Vegas and the Bahamas. Reportedly, the amount collected through the scheme was "in the six-figure area."

The agreement does not call for restitution, reports said, because contributions were as small as $5, and there were so many that returning the money would be difficult.

Duke also pleaded guilty to filing a false 1998 tax return in which he claimed to make only $18,831 when he really made more than $65,000.

Duke won a seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1988 and finished second in a 1990 race for the U.S. Senate and a 1991 race for Louisiana governor. An investigation into Duke's finances became public in 1999, soon after he finished third in a nine-candidate primary for Louisiana's 1st Congressional District seat.

Duke is now disqualified from running for public office.


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