Prosecutors asked a federal judge in Greensboro, North Carolina, to dismiss the felony charges. The move came after Edwards was found not guilty on May 31 of one count of violating campaign finance laws. U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles declared a mistrial on the remaining counts.
The department decided not to retry Edwards “in the interest of justice” Lanny Breuer, the chief of the criminal division, said in a statement.
“We knew that this case, like all campaign finance cases, would be challenging,” Breuer said. “But it is our duty to bring hard cases when we believe that the facts and the law support charging a candidate for high office with a crime.”
Edwards, a Democrat who was U.S. Senator John Kerry’s running mate in the 2004 presidential election, was charged with using illegal campaign contributions to hide an extramarital affair while seeking the Democratic nomination for president.
Edwards is “grateful” that the Justice Department decided to dismiss the charges, his attorney, Abbe Lowell, said in a statement.
“While John has repeatedly admitted to his sins, he has also consistently asserted, as we demonstrated at the trial, that he did not violate any campaign law nor even imagined that any campaign laws could apply,” Lowell said.
The U.S. was unlikely to retry Edwards on the five counts, a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News May 31.