John Edwards' decision to forgo a plea deal and fight charges that he violated campaign finance law in court comes at no small risk. He faces up to 30 years in prison on the six counts (along with $1.5 million in fines) if he loses. The case hinges on two key questions, explains the Raleigh News & Observer: whether donor payments to mistress Rielle Hunter and aide Andrew Young were meant to keep Edwards' 2008 campaign alive, and whether Edwards knew about the payments. Business Insider provides a look at key allegations in the indictment.
The Edwards camp argues that the money was used to keep the affair secret from the candidate's late wife, Elizabeth, and had no political connections. The funds never went into campaign accounts but instead got funneled to Hunter or Andrews directly or through third parties. For a who's who in what should be a convoluted case, click to see the News & Observer's list of key players. (Read more John Edwards stories.)