'People's champ' Larry Hill sentenced to prison for tax fraud
Posted February 4
Rocky Mount, N.C. — A Rocky Mount businessman at the center of a WRAL investigation last July was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison Tuesday for tax fraud.
Prosecutors said Larry Hill, who coined himself “the people’s champ” for his efforts to keep local children out of trouble, didn’t live by his own message and that his case represented “disturbing hypocrisy.”
In a YouTube clip posted in November 2012, Hill says, “I want all my young people to think before you act. Trouble is too easy to get into, and once you get into trouble, you’ll be all by yourself.”
Federal Judge Earl Britt sentenced Hill to 100 months in prison for conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and 18 months for filing false tax returns. Prosecutors said he ran shady tax preparation businesses that stole millions from the federal government.
Hill’s sentences run concurrently, so he will spend eight years and four months at the federal correctional institution in Butner. He was also given three years supervised release and was ordered to pay more than $4 million in restitution.
In court Tuesday, Hill asked for mercy and a reduced sentence because of his community work in Rocky Mount. Prosecutors recommended he get the lower end of the sentence, which ranged from 100 to 125 months, because he was cooperative and gave Harnett County sheriff’s deputies information about a murder case that he received from another inmate.
The judge agreed to the lower sentence of 100 months but said Hill deserved the “most severe punishment to reflect the seriousness of the offense,” pointing out that Hill used much of the money to buy himself expensive jewelry and cars, including a Maserati. The judge also noted that Hill was on supervised release from an insurance fraud prison term when he committed the tax fraud.
The WRAL Investigates team caught up with Hill at a used car sales business last June, where he was known as “the head honcho.” He declined to comment, but later emailed WRAL to say that he shares "some of the blame" for his legal troubles.
"He without sin cast the first stone," Hill wrote, adding that “life would be boring” if everyone was like actor Bill Cosby.