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Duncan Hunter granted delay in serving sentence due to coronavirus

Prosecutors and Hunter's attorneyscited impacts from the coronavirus epidemic in requesting the delayed surrender date.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., leaves federal court after a hearing on July 1, 2019, in San Diego.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., leaves federal court after a hearing on July 1, 2019, in San Diego.Denis Poroy / AP file

Former U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, convicted of misusing campaign funds, has been granted a delay in when he must surrender to start serving his 11-month sentence.

U.S. District Judge Thomas J. Whelan in an order filed Thursday granted a joint motion to continue Hunter's surrender date, writing he must surrender to a federal prison on or before Jan. 4.

Prosecutors and Hunter's attorney said that the delay was appropriate "due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the unknown impacts the disease will have in the coming months."

Online federal court records show the previous surrender date was set for May 29, which would just be weeks away.

Hunter, 43, pleaded guilty in December to a corruption charge after prosecutors said he and his wife "converted and stole" more than a quarter-million dollars in campaign funds for their own use over several years. He admitted to spending more than $150,000 in campaign funds for their own use and was sentenced in March.

Hunter's wife, Margaret, pleaded guilty in June. A sentencing hearing has been continued until June 8, according to online court records.

Hunter is a Republican who represented a Southern California district that includes part of San Diego County.

He resigned from his position in January, just more than a year after winning a sixth term.

In exchange for the government agreeing to the delay, Hunter agreed not to seek any sentencing modifications, according to the court document.

The threat of the coronavirus epidemic, which has killed more than 76,000 people in the United States according to an NBC News count, in prisons has prompted the Federal Bureau of Prisons to release some on home confinement.

As of Thursday, 2,646 federal inmates and 244 bureau staff have tested positive for the coronavirus illness COVIOD-19, according to the bureau's website. Around 600 inmates and 240 staff have recovered. Forty-four federal inmates have died.