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Noem returns doctor's donation after tax fraud conviction

Edward Picardi

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem has returned $4,000 in campaign contributions from a man convicted of felony tax evasion.

A federal jury convicted Rapid City surgeon Edward Picardi after a three-week trial on 13 charges that he filtered millions of dollars of income through offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes.

The media reports that Picardi and his wife gave Noem a combined $4,000 in the past two years and another $4,500 in 2010. The South Dakota Democratic Party called on Noem to return the money.

Noem campaign manager Tom Erickson says the campaign immediately returned the $4,000 after learning of Picardi's conviction. He says the $4,500 donated in the previous election cycle already was spent.

Noem is a Republican. Democrat Matt Varilek is trying to unseat her.