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Ex-California lawmaker's prison term delayed due to virus

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A federal judge Thursday agreed to push back the start of former California Rep. Duncan Hunter's prison term for stealing campaign funds until next year because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas J. Whelan moved the surrender date from May 29 to Jan. 4 after Hunter’s lawyers and prosecutors filed a joint motion asking for the change earlier this week. Hunter's defense lawyer said the virus outbreak makes it a bad time to add to the prison population. Corrections facilities have been releasing inmates to control the spread of the virus.

Hunter resigned from Congress in January after pleading guilty to stealing campaign funds and spending the money on everything from outings with friends to his daughter’s birthday party. The ex-Marine was sentenced in March to 11 months in prison.

A staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, the six-term lawmaker had represented one of Southern California’s last solidly Republican districts. A Democrat and Republican are headed to a November runoff for his seat.

Last month, another convicted former congressman from New York, Chris Collins, had his prison start date delayed until June after his lawyers told the court the 69-year-old is in a high risk category if he contracts the coronavirus. Collins, a former Republican representative sentenced to 26 months for securities fraud, is now set to surrender June 23.

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