ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The former administrative director at one of the nation's most prominent conservative organizations pleaded guilty Monday to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the group.
Diana Hubbard Carr, 56, of Alexandria, kept the books at the Alexandria-based American Conservative Union. She pleaded to a count of mail fraud in U.S. District Court.
Court documents say she took $120,000 to $400,000 over several years. The exact amount is a matter of dispute and will be determined at her sentencing Sept. 16, when she faces up to 20 years in prison.
She is the ex-wife of David Keene, who until this year had been the ACU's longtime chairman. He was elected last month as president of the National Rifle Association.
The scheme ran from 2006 through 2009, according to court documents. Carr admitted diverting funds into her bank account for paying off her American Express card and for making personal purchases at Costco. Carr covered up the thefts with false entries in the ACU's books.
The ACU is probably best known for hosting an annual meeting, the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, that regularly draws leading presidential candidates and other top conservative speakers. Its board includes numerous prominent conservatives, including John Bolton, Grover Norquist and Morton Blackwell.
ACU spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said in a statement that the organization alerted authorities to the embezzlement after an internal audit.
"This plea agreement and upcoming sentencing procedures bring this incident to a close and ACU will remain focused now and in the future on being America's leading conservative voice," she said.
Carr's lawyer, Robert Bonsib, declined to comment on details of the case. But he said he expects to provide information to the court before sentencing "that hopefully will put it in a context of a good person who made a bad decision in some tough personal times."
It is not the first time a Keene family member got into legal trouble while working at the ACU. In 2003, David Keene's son, David M. Keene, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for discharging a firearm in a crime of violence after he shot at the driver of another car from his BMW on the George Washington Memorial Parkway in northern Virginia. Police said the shot missed the other driver's head by inches. At the time, the younger Keene, then 21, was serving as ACU's director of online communications.
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