Raleigh, N.C. — Former Rep. Stephen LaRoque has filed a motion to dismiss federal charges of fraud and misappropriation of funds, arguing that the money in question belonged to him so he couldn't have stolen it and then lied about it.
LaRoque was indicted last July on eight counts of misusing federal funds and money laundering, and prosecutors later tacked on four counts of fraud.
The Kinston Republican administered a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan program for small-business development, but prosecutors say he directed the loan money to friends and family and might have used some for campaign expenses.
The fraud charges stem from allegedly lying on USDA documents and filing false tax returns.
In a motion to dismiss filed Monday, defense attorneys Joe Cheshire and Elliot Abrams argue that the boards of two nonprofits that received the USDA funds approved LaRoque's actions, so it was his money to spend as he saw fit.
"The government admits that the board approved the contracts with Mr. LaRoque and does not allege that he defrauded the board members. The contracts that the board approved made Mr. LaRoque the rightful owner of the property he is charged with wrongfully obtaining," the motion states.
LaRoque, who resigned his House seat under pressure after his indictment, is scheduled to go on trial May 20 in Greenville.