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Indicted John Edwards smiles in police mug shot

Handout booking image of former Senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards
Handout booking image of former Senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former senator and vice presidential nominee John Edwards could face prison time if convicted of violating campaign finance laws, but he is smiling in a mug shot released on Wednesday by federal officials.

The pictures were obtained by Reuters through a Freedom of Information Act request to the U.S. Marshals Service.

Edwards was indicted on federal charges in North Carolina on June 3 for using nearly $1 million in illegal campaign funds to help cover up an extramarital affair he had while seeking the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy, taking illegal campaign contributions and making false statements.

The indictment accuses Edwards of secretly getting the money to help hide his affair with a campaign worker, Rielle Hunter, knowing that revelations of the liaison and her pregnancy would destroy his political aspirations.

Prosecutors said the gifts were an attempt to circumvent election laws. Edwards' attorneys dispute that any laws were broken, saying the gifts were an attempt to keep the affair hidden from his now-deceased wife, Elizabeth.

"There's no question that I've done wrong and I take full responsibility for having done wrong, and I will regret for the rest of my life the pain and the harm that I've caused to others," Edwards said after his initial court hearing.

"But I did not break the law and I never, ever thought that I was breaking the law."

(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Greg McCune)

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