In a startling turn of events, JOHN EDWARDS is preparing for jail as an elderly multimillionaire widow gives bombshell testimony to the Federal Grand Jury investigating alleged misuse of Presidential campaign funds to buy a conspiracy of silence, The ENQUIRER reports exclusively
Two months after the tragic death of his wife Elizabeth, the disgraced presidential candidate has been rocked by a new blow. Prosecutors are rushing to record "deathbed" testimony from super-wealthy campaign contributor, 100-year-old Bunny Mellon.
Investigators into Edwards’ alleged misuse of campaign funds are planning to question Bunny for a third time – trying to nail down whether the ex-senator violated the law by using campaign donations to cover up his affair with Rielle Hunter, the mother of his love child.
The terrifying thought of going to prison has sent the philandering politician spiraling into a deep depression, The ENQUIRER has learned.
"John’s beside himself with the thought of spending time in jail if he gets indicted," revealed a close source. "Jail was never really a possibility before, but things are looking so bad for John right now that he’s forced to make plans.
"He’s been miserable since learning that prosecutors are re-interviewing one of his most loyal and generous campaign contributors – Bunny Mellon.
"Something significant must have been uncovered for prosecutors to ask a 100-year-old woman to re-testify.
"John and his attorneys think this is a clear sign he will be indicted."
Federal prosecutors in Raleigh, N.C., have recently stepped up their nearly two-year probe – and have requested videotaped testimony from Bunny.
Beginning in 2007, a series of ENQUIRER bombshell reports ripped the lid off Edwards’ affair with Rielle – and the birth of their secret love child.
Edwards at first denied our charges, and a massive cover-up ensued. He persuaded married campaign aide Andrew Young to falsely claim paternity of Rielle’s daughter, Frances Quinn.
The ENQUIRER also broke the news that the U.S. government had launched an investigation to determine if any laws were broken to hide Edwards’ infidelity.
Mellon, a secret supporter of the ex-senator, donated more than $3 million to political committees and nonprofit groups associated with Edwards.
She also reportedly sent personal checks totaling more than $700,000 to a friend in North Carolina, who then signed checks over to Young.
Some of the checks were earmarked to be used for "furniture," but in a sensational charge, Young asserts that the money was actually used to support Rielle during the cheating scandal. If so, it could be a violation of campaign finance laws.
Bunny’s lawyers claim the money was intended as a personal gift to Edwards and that she didn’t know how it was being spent.
The wealthy widow of banking heir Paul Mellon, Bunny has already been interviewed by the FBI.
Now they want Bunny to give videotaped testimony that would be crucial if Edwards is indicted and goes to trial.
The request for such testimony indicates that some crucial evidence against Edwards has been uncovered, asserts a Washington, D.C., insider.
"Obtaining Bunny’s recorded testimony is more essential than ever now," says an insider. "A trial could take years, and Mrs. Mellon may not be around to testify."
Bunny is the only major donor still alive, "and she holds the answers to what John knew and didn’t know," says the insider.
"If prosecutors can prove that John knew Bunny’s money was used to hide his mistress, their out-of-wedlock child and his former aide Andrew Young and his family – then it’s a slam-dunk case."
John, whose wife Elizabeth lost her cancer battle Dec. 7, has been more despondent than ever since the investigation has heated up, says the close source.
"He’s depressed and can’t fathom the thought of telling his motherless children that he’s going away to prison."
Special to National Enquirer.com
Originally published in The Enquirer print edition that FIRST hit newstands 2/9/11.