Wife: Edwards aide agreed to claim paternity

May 1, 2012 at 7:36 PM
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RALEIGH, N.C., May 1 (UPI) -- The wife of an ex-campaign aide to John Edwards testified Tuesday she heard the 2008 U.S. presidential hopeful cry about being photographed with his mistress.

Cheri Young testified in U.S. District Court in Raleigh, N.C., she only heard Edwards on the phone twice. In one call, she said, Edwards told her husband Andrew he had checked with campaign finance advisers who told him how money would be funneled from a wealthy donor to the Youngs legally.

In the other call, she said, Edwards cried after National Enquirer reporters had photographed him at a Beverly Hills, Calif., hotel during a visit with Rielle Hunter -- with whom he was having an affair -- and their child.

In her third day of testimony, Young had trouble recalling details under cross examination in Edwards' federal campaign financing violations trial, now in its second week.

She had defense attorney Alan Duncan produce documents to help refresh her memory about matters regarding the Youngs' $1.5 million home, her husband's book, "The Politician," and e-mail messages, The (Raleigh) News & Observer reported.

She testified about what Edwards and two wealthy supporters had said and done, though Duncan pointed out she had never spoken with Virginia heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon, who provided nearly $750,000 that wound up in the Youngs' private bank account. Young acknowledged she had only one encounter with Fred Baron, a Texas lawyer who prosecutors allege financed trips the Youngs took, the newspaper said.

Young also acknowledged her husband was drinking a lot in 2006 and 2007 and was taking a sleeping aid. She described herself as feeling lonely and frustrated during the campaign.

The News & Observer said she was evasive about how much money her husband's book generated in income for the couple and about improvements made to their 6,000-square-foot home.

Young had an emotional time on the stand Monday, breaking down in tears several times. U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles sent the jury out of the courtroom at one point to allow Young to compose herself.

Young testified Edwards told her husband it would not be a violation of campaign finance law to deposit donors' checks into the Youngs' bank account. She recalled listening in on a phone call between Edwards and her husband.

"I heard Mr. John Edwards tell me on the phone," she said. "'Get the money in.'"

She admitted depositing the checks herself.

The money was intended for Hunter, the campaign videographer. The News & Observer said Young recounted traveling the country with her husband during the 2008 presidential campaign trying to keep a lid on Edwards' affair. Eventually, Andrew Young agreed to have Hunter live with them.

"I had a presidential candidate's mistress coming to stay at my house, last minute," Young told prosecutors.

The situation became so dire, to prevent a scandal, Andrew Young agreed to claim he was the father of Hunter's child, the newspaper said.

When asked how she felt when her husband approached her about the idea, Cheri Young told prosecutors, "I cannot tell you how disgusted I was."

Young told the court she felt Edwards' problems had been dumped on her.

"I didn't want to be responsible for blowing up the campaign," she said. "The first thought on my mind was 'How in the world can Mr. Edwards ask one more thing of me, of us?' Of course I was mad."

Edwards is on trial for six felony counts, including four counts of collecting illegal campaign contributions, one count of making false statements and one count of conspiracy. If convicted, Edwards could face as much as 30 years in prison.

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