NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Former Louisiana Senator Karen Carter Peterson appeared in court for the first time on Monday after being charged in connection to a defrauding scheme. After only about an hour in the courtroom, Peterson, 58, pleaded guilty to a single charge of wire fraud.

In July, WGNO received Federal Court documents that showed how the former senator reportedly defrauded contributors to the Karen Carter Peterson Campaign Fund. The documents revealed that the crimes happened between 2010 and 2022 while Peterson was serving as both the State Senator for Louisiana’s Fifth District and Chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party.

Following the release of the documents, Peterson announced her resignation from the Louisiana State Senate in April after serving for 23 years. With her resignation, Peterson confessed she was struggling with personal matters throughout her career involving depression and a gambling addiction.

During Monday’s arraignment, Judge Sara S Vance deferred Peterson’s guilty plea. If convicted, Peterson could face a maximum of 20 years in prison and pay a fine of up to $250,000. Peterson’s sentencing date is scheduled for December 7 at 10:30 a.m.