John Edwards’ campaign finance fraud case ended in a mistrial Thursday when jurors acquitted him on one of six charges.
However, the jury failed to decide whether the politician misused money from two wealthy donors to hide his pregnant mistress when taking part in the presidential race.
Mr Edwards, , who twice sought the Democratic presidential nod and was nominated for vice president in 2004, could have faced up to 30 years in jail and $1.5m (£945,000) in fines if convicted of all charges.
During the trial was exposed a sordid sex scandal that unfolded while Edwards’ wife was dying of cancer. However, prosecutors didn’t manage to convince jurors that the 2004 vice presidential candidate masterminded a $1 million cover-up of his affair.
Edwards was acquitted on a charge of accepting illegal campaign contributions, involving $375,000 from elderly heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon in 2008.
As The Huff Post claims, the former Senator had also been charged with illegally accepting $350,000 from Mellon in 2007, other donations from wealthy Texas attorney Fred Baron, filing a false campaign finance report and conspiracy.
Speaking outside the court, the former North Carolina senator said despite he’d made nothing illegal, he still blamed himself for “awful, awful lot that was wrong”.
“If I want to find the person who should be held accountable for my sins, honestly I don’t have to go any further than a mirror. It’s me. It is me and me alone,” he said.
He went on: “While I do not believe I did anything illegal, or ever thought I was doing anything illegal, I did an awful, awful lot that was wrong and there is no one else responsible for my sins.”
He added he had hope for his future: “I don’t think God’s through with me. I really believe he thinks there’s still some good things I can do.”
Considering the future, Edwards revealed his plans to work with poor children – and spend time with his own kids.
“I want to dedicate my life to being the best dad I think I can be,” he said, mentioning all of his children – including his son Wade, who died in 1972, and his daughter with videographer Rielle Hunter, Quinn.
Edwards also thanked his oldest daughter, Cate, saying: “Cate has been here every single day, no matter how awful and painful a lot of the evidence was…. She never flinched.”
The Justice Department refused to reveal whether prosecutors would seek to retry Edwards. However, a source familiar with the case said another prosecution was unlikely.
Edwards’ reps said prosecutors failed to prove that the former candidate knew that taking the money violated campaign finance law.
They added he shouldn’t be convicted for being a liar, and even if he did know about some of the money, it was a gift, not a campaign contribution.
“This is a case that should define the difference between a wrong and a crime … between a sin and a felony,” attorney Abbe Lowell told the jury. “John Edwards has confessed his sins. He will serve a life sentence for those.”