Karen Carter Peterson to plead guilty for using party, campaign funds for gambling, reports say

By: - July 14, 2022 9:56 am

Louisiana state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson gives a concession speech after losing a runoff to represent Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District to state Sen. Troy Carter in 2021. (Photo by JC Canicosa / Louisiana Illuminator)

Former state lawmaker and Louisiana Democratic Party chairman Karen Carter Peterson is expected to admit in federal court that she used party funds and money from her campaign to support her gambling addiction, multiple news outlets are reporting.

The reports all cite anonymous sources that say a guilty plea could come soon from Peterson, who abruptly resigned from the Louisiana Senate in April. The Times-Picayune reports the FBI is looking specifically at payments made from the Democratic Party to a New Orleans consulting firm.

Peterson’s attorney, Brian Capetelli, would not confirm details of the news reports when the Illuminator reached him Wednesday night. He provided a statement to the media in response.

“This marks an important step in Ms. Peterson‘s recovery as she continues to address her gambling addiction,” Capetelli said in the statement. “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.

“She has been forthright, honest, and cooperative with the US Attorneys’ office in their investigation.”

In announcing her departure to the Senate, Peterson cited the need to focus on her mental health. She acknowledged her struggles with gambling and depression, saying that she had been sober and “off the bet … for a long time.” Peterson added that she continued to take part in a recovery program.

In 2019, Peterson was issued a misdemeanor summons at a Baton Rouge casino for violating a self-imposed ban there. She acknowledged her gambling addition and claimed at the time that the incident had been leaked to the news media.

Peterson led the state party from 2012 to 2020 and had held a seat in the Louisiana Legislature for 22 years. As arguably the most outspoken critic of anti-abortion efforts in the state house, her absence was noticeable this past session when lawmakers approved making state laws even stricter.

Term limits would have forced Peterson out of office had she not resigned. She made last year’s runoff for the 2nd Congressional District race, which she lost to fellow state senator Troy Carter.

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Greg LaRose
Greg LaRose

Greg LaRose has covered news for more than 30 years in Louisiana. Before coming to the Louisiana Illuminator, he was the chief investigative reporter for WDSU-TV in New Orleans. He previously led the government and politics team for The Times-Picayune | NOLA.com, and was editor in chief at New Orleans CityBusiness. Greg's other career stops include Tiger Rag, South Baton Rouge Journal, the Covington News Banner, Louisiana Radio Network and multiple radio stations.

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