Edwards confidant goes before grand jury

Michael Cucchiara arrives at the federal courthouse in Raleigh
January 6, 2011 1:08:47 PM PST
John Edwards confidant Michael Cucchiara was seen entering the federal courthouse in Raleigh Thursday.

A grand jury investigating the former North Carolina senator and 2008 presidential candidate has been meeting in the building for more than a year.

Cucchiara told marshals he'd been called to testify and went upstairs with attorney Joe Zeszotarski.

He left the building with his attorney close to noon and declined to comment to ABC11.

He returned at 1 p.m. and left again after 3.

In 2006, Cucchiara and his wife pledged $2 million to help endow the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity - directed by Edwards - at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law.

Edwards spent nearly two years as director of the Center on Poverty. It ultimately led to his announcement on December 28, 2006 - in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans - that fighting poverty would be the cornerstone of his 2008 presidential campaign.

It's not clear what information Cucchiara might provide to the grand jury.

According to sources, prosecutors are focused on the possible misuse of campaign contributions. They want to know about the arrangement to conceal the affair and the baby John Edwards had with his mistress, Rielle Hunter.

Edwards has denied any wrongdoing.

Sources say prosecutors are gathering information about the people who donated money to help Edwards' former aide Andrew Young, his wife, and Hunter live a life on the run.

Both Hunter and Young have testified before the grand jury.

Hunter worked for Edwards' political action committee in 2006, shooting behind-the-scenes video as the Democrat prepared to launch his White House campaign. The committee paid her video production firm $100,000 that year and then another $14,000 later on in what a senior campaign official described as a payment for leftover footage.

Young has said he was tasked with taking care of Hunter both during the campaign and after. He described receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from Edwards supporters.

Edwards has largely been in seclusion since admitting two years ago that he had an affair with Hunter. He publicly admitted for the first time last year he fathered her child.

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