Ex-lawmaker pleads guilty to federal charge

Posted January 26, 2015

Former state Rep. Stephen LaRoque, right, listens to defense attorney Joe Cheshire speak with reporters on Aug. 6, 2012, after LaRoque's first appearance in federal court on charges of misuse of funds and money laundering. A judge approved Cheshire's withdrawal from the case on Feb. 18, 2014, and also granted LaRoque a new trial on all charges after his June 7, 2013, conviction.

— After fighting federal charges for more than two years, former state Rep. Stephen LaRoque quietly pleaded guilty Monday as part of a deal to get the rest of the case against him dismissed.

The Kinston Republican pleaded guilty in Greenville to aiding and abetting theft concerning programs receiving federal funds. He will be sentenced May 12, when he faces up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Federal prosecutors said LaRoque took $150,000 from a U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded nonprofit. A 2012 indictment alleged that he directed the money to friends and family and might have used some for campaign expenses.

He had maintained his innocence, arguing that the loans from the USDA to two nonprofits he directed were more like advances on money owed to him by the nonprofits and that the boards of the two organizations approved his actions.

LaRoque, who resigned his House seat in 2012 under pressure after he was indicted, was convicted in 2013 of four counts each of misuse of funds, money laundering and fraud, but the verdicts were thrown out after it was learned that a juror conducted outside research in the case.

A new trial had been scheduled for next month, and LaRoque was trying to get the case dismissed as recently as three weeks ago, alleging in a motion that prosecutors improperly extended the term of the grand jury that indicted him.

As part of the plea deal, he agreed to reimburse $300,000 to East Carolina Development Co., one of the nonprofits he headed.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • notexactly Jan 28, 2015

    View quoted thread

    Really? A crook is a crook! It has nothing to do with what party you are in. Being a thief is party blind. All should serve many years in prison and be heavily fined if guilty. The money should go back to the people of the state tax free.

  • Charlie Watkins Jan 28, 2015
    user avatar

    It was the fault of the jury! Just like with Brannon.

  • heelhawk Jan 27, 2015

    Now I understand why Republicans are so against the poor and middle class getting any government help or subsidies..... they need to steal more of it for themselves.

  • dwntwnboy2 Jan 27, 2015

    That's one crook down- now root out the rest of them no matter what letter is next to their name!

  • Matt Wood Jan 27, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Notice the silence from the far-right posters on here...

  • angieb Jan 27, 2015

    You are so right!!!

  • Pensive01 Jan 27, 2015

    View quoted thread

    Actually he was never am member of the US House of Representatives, just the NC House.

  • bottleworks Jan 26, 2015

    The Kinston Republican pleaded guilty....

  • proudgrandmomma Jan 26, 2015

    Have to wait until we get all the facts here. The law is that your innocent until PROVEN guilty, not the other way around.

  • tran Jan 26, 2015

    View quoted thread

    He has represented many high profile clients including the Duke Lacrosse players. If you can afford him, he's the one to hire.