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Aide of former U.S. Senator suspended after allegedly crashing Edwards event

Aide of former U.S. Senator suspended after allegedly crashing Edwards event

A former U.S. Senator has suspended his chief of staff after the man allegedly crashed a Martha's Vineyard fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, then broke into a nearby Coast Guard station.
Michael Duga Jr., 31, an aide for former Sen. Max Cleland, was released on $2,500 (euro1,834) bail after pleading not guilty Monday in Edgartown District Court to charges including marijuana possession and breaking into the Menemsha Coast Guard Station.
Duga has an "extensive criminal history" in Florida, including carjacking and drug possession and dealing, according to a police report from the Chilmark police department on Martha's Vineyard.
Cleland, a Democrat from Georgia, said Wednesday that he put Duga on unpaid leave the day before and was not aware of Duga's criminal record.
"I trusted him and he had a clean record, as far as I knew," Cleland said. "But now some things are coming out. But I want to reserve final judgment until all the facts are in."
Reached Wednesday by The Associated Press, Duga said, "I have the utmost respect for Senator Cleland and will continue to do so throughout his life. He is an American hero to me."
He declined further comment.
According to the police report, Duga was dropped off Friday at a fundraiser for Edwards at the Chilmark home of Alex MacDonald.
Duga told a police officer that he was working with Edwards' campaign committee. He showed a photo and card indicating he was Cleland's chief of staff.
"We cannot comment any further as this is a security issue and pending investigation," Edwards' spokeswoman Colleen Murray said in a statement to The Associated Press.
On Saturday morning, police were dispatched to the Menemsha Coast guard station, where they found Duga, whom the Coast Guard said entered the building without permission.
Police said they later found marijuana in the sport utility vehicle Duga was using.


Updated : 2021-04-22 11:46 GMT+08:00