Former Raleigh political candidate sentenced to 6.5 years in prison
Posted May 3, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — A former Raleigh political candidate and businesswoman who pleaded guilty last year in connection with a real-estate investment scam was sentenced Friday to six-and-a-half years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
Carolyn Grant was also ordered to pay nearly $13.6 million in restitution to more than 65 victims and must report to prison by June 30. She could have received up to a 20-year sentence.
In court Friday, Grant said she'd like to "work and repay as much as possible." Calling her statement a "pipe dream," U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle said he doesn't think the victims will "get even a penny."
Grant, 63, pleaded guilty last November to a felony count of mail fraud in the scam. According to court documents, she lied to investors, telling them their money was used on real estate projects when it was used for her personal and business expenses and to pay back investors.
The North Carolina Secretary of State's Office issued a cease and desist order against Grant in August 2011 after allegations surfaced that she failed to repay millions of dollars she borrowed from friends and associates for real estate deals and personal loans.
Jim Good, one of the fraud victims, attended Friday's sentencing and called Grant an "accomplished liar, cheat and thief" who deserved the maximum sentence.
"I thought I was investing in a project in Banner Elk where she was going to build a bunch of town homes," he said. "That was our retirement money. We really trusted her … we thought we were safe, we really did."
"She’s had opportunities in the last six months to make restitution and she never did it," Good added. "She’s supposedly making $6,000 a month, and we never saw any of that."
Outside court Friday, Grant declined to comment. Woody Webb, her senior defense attorney, said his client is "incredibly remorseful."
"She was obviously raising money from new investors to pay off old investors, and she feels bad about it. I think she got so far behind the eight ball she couldn't get herself out. And desperate people do desperate things," Webb said. "She admits she lost her way, and she would like to reclaim a productive life."
Grant surrendered her real estate license and the license to her Raleigh-based real estate investment company, Omega Property Group, in 2011. She ran unsuccessfully for Raleigh mayor in 1999 and Congress in 2002.