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Sunday
May062012

John Edwards Trial: Witness Says Money Earmarked to Hide Mistress Was 'For His Benefit'

Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The government wrapped up the second week of its case-in-chief with something of a bombshell/cliffhanger combination for jurors to ponder over the weekend, when a witness revealed that John Edwards had acknowledged that the money earmarked to hide his mistress was "for his benefit."

After a day of colorful testimony from interior designer Bryan Huffman focusing on the "Bunny Money" that contributed to the cover-up of Edwards' affair, Bunny Mellon's attorney Alexander Forger, a stately New Yorker with a booming baritone voice, was called to the stand.

Forger described his efforts in 2008 to unravel the mystery of the secret payments--totaling $725,000--that Mellon funneled through Huffman to Edwards aide Andrew Young. The checks were disguised as payments for furniture.

"Our furniture business did not involve furniture," Huffman had testified. "It was money for Senator Edwards."

Forger said that in late 2008 he spoke to Edwards about the payments, by then having traced the checks to an account controlled by Young.

Edwards denied knowing about the money and told Forger that he was sorry Young had bilked Mellon and thought Young ought to pay her back.

But Forger said that in a subsequent conversation with Wade Smith, Edwards' attorney at that time, the lawyer told him: "John has said, yes. He acknowledges now that this was for his benefit."

As a hush fell over the courtroom, prosecutor Robert Higdon suggested it would be a good time to stop for the day, denying Edwards' attorneys the chance to jump into cross examination. That was the last thing the jury heard before the weekend break.

It was not clear from Forger's testimony when Edwards learned about Mellon's money.

Edwards is charged with violating campaign finance laws by using nearly $1 million from wealthy donors to hide his pregnant girlfriend, Rielle Hunter. He could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio