RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A former North Carolina state legislator is ready to serve time for the crime of stealing money from a federally funded rural development organization he founded. But he’s not going quietly.
Former House member of Stephen LaRoque says he had to report to the federal prison in Butner by midday Tuesday for his two-year sentence.
LaRoque pleaded guilty in January to one count of taking $150,000 from East Carolina Development Co. Prosecutors argued he used the money for personal benefit. The Kinston Republican distributed a statement to media outlets over the weekend. He says he only took money owed to him in deferred salary that he planned to repay after getting an inheritance.
“I never gave anyone in my family a loan!” LaRoque told WNCT. “Did I loan money to people in my family who were friends? Sure I did, but go to any banker. They’ll tell you they loan money to people that they’re friends with.”
He told WNCT that the $300,000 was a loan to himself for deferred salary over the years. He paid back $200,000 but he said he was advised by his auditor to keep $100,000 as part of his salary.
LaRoque called his prosecution a “witch hunt” and accused prosecutors of targeting him for his political activism.
U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker responded with the following statement to WNCT:
Mr. LaRoque, advised by a competent team of retained attorneys, pled guilty to theft of government property and agreed to make restitution in the amount of $300,000. At sentencing, he was given an opportunity to personally address the judge in open court to say anything he wished relevant to his possible sentence. He chose to say nothing. His recent allegations are absurd. We are reviewing Mr. LaRoque’s lengthy statement to see if a fuller response is necessary.”
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. WNCT contributed to this article.