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Edwards lawyers to follow trail of 'Bunny money'

FILE - In this April 12, 2012, file photo, former presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. John Edwards arrives outside federal court following a lunch break in Greensboro, N.C., during jury selection in his criminal trial on alleged campaign finance violatio
FILE - In this April 12, 2012, file photo, former presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. John Edwards arrives outside federal court following a lunch break in Greensboro, N.C., during jury selection in his criminal trial on alleged campaign finance violations. Defense lawyers for John Edwards will argue at his trial that much of the nearly $1 million in secret payments at issue in the criminal case against their client were actually siphoned off by a trusted aide to build an expansive dream home.
Gerry Broome, File, Associated Press

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Defense lawyers for John Edwards will argue at his trial that many of the secret payments at issue in the criminal case were actually siphoned off by a trusted aide.

The attorneys say in court papers that the aide, Andrew Young, was using much of the nearly $1 million in payments to build an expansive dream home in North Carolina.

Most of the money was provided by 101-year-old Bunny Mellon, an heiress from Virginia. She had offered under-the-table cash to cover Edwards' personal expenses. Prosecutors say it was used to hide Edwards' pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, during his 2008 presidential campaign.

Edwards denies knowing about the money. His attorneys say the money was not a political contribution because it was intended to hide Hunter from Edwards' wife, not voters.