Local Politics

Prosecutors, Defense Jockey Over Black Sentence

Posted July 10, 2007

— The positioning over the proper punishment for former House Speaker Jim Black on federal corruption charges continued Tuesday in the final day before he is sentenced.

Black faces up to 10 years in prison after he pleaded guilty in February to accepting more than $25,000 from chiropractors in exchange for backing legislation favorable to the industry.

Black's attorney requested a 35-day delay last week, saying the pre-sentence report compiled in the case sought a harsher prison sentence than earlier anticipated. Ken Bell asked U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle for extra time to prepare opposition to the report.

But Boyle never signed an order granting the delay, and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Raleigh issued an advisory Tuesday morning that the sentencing would be held at 9 a.m. Wednesday instead of 10 a.m.

Prosecutors filed court documents Monday calling for a stiff sentence, saying Black didn't help authorities investigate public corruption and had a history of questionable dealings.

In 2000, Black accepted a $500,000 donation from a lobbyist and never reported it. He wasn't prosecuted on the offense because the statute of limitations had passed, but authorities said it demonstrated his lack of credibility.

"The idea that the speaker would be soliciting $500,000 for any purpose from a single lobbyist shocks the imagination," said Joe Sinsheimer, a former political consultant who is a long-time Black critic.

Sinsheimer said he expects Black to be sentenced to more than four years in prison. Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, said he also thinks Black deserves time behind bars.

"It would not serve the public well for a man of this level to have gotten away with what he did," said Hall, who filed the original complaint that launched a State Board of Elections investigation into Black's campaign finances.

Black's attorneys filed their own paperwork Monday, asking that the Charlotte-area optometrist pay his debt to society by opening an eye clinic for needy children.

Some people, including Republican Sen. Neal Hunt of Wake County, called that a practical sentence.

"He's not a threat to society. He's being punished. It's house arrest. He's helping this state. I can't see why not do it," Hunt said.

But Sinsheimer said it sends a bad message for Black, who also faces sentencing on state corruption charges, to get off without any jail time.

"The idea Jim Black would escape prison time is ridiculous and, quite frankly, if it happened, would set a terrible double standard," he said.


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  • MacsRule Jul 11, 2007

    He really should go to prison. His representation of the people of NC was criminal.

  • tarheel1980 Jul 10, 2007

    I've got a better idea. Send him to prison and let him do the eye exams for $1 a day from there.

  • DrJ Jul 10, 2007

    If this ridiculous idea even gets any consideration, we'll know for sure that at least one judge and one DA are also on the take.

  • yruatwit Jul 10, 2007

    Jim Black and those of his ilk (of which there seem to be many including Senator Neal Hunt based on his comment in this article) are festering boils on the skin of politics in North Carolina. They are the antithesis of integrity, morality, decency, honesty and ethical behavior. But, what does that say about the voters who put him and his kind in office.........over and over again. The hypocrisy (both politically and religiously) among many of the citizens of North Carolina is beyond unbelieveable.

  • Mr. French Jul 10, 2007

    Then along came ol' B'rer Judge who asked, "B'rer Black - what shall I do with you?"

    B'rer Black responded, "Do anything you want, B'rer Judge, but PLEEEEEEEZZZEEE don't make me give out free eye exams!"

  • Tax Man Jul 10, 2007

    "Black's attorneys filed their own paperwork Monday, asking that the Charlotte-area optometrist pay his debt to society by opening an eye clinic for needy children."

    Black can do this, but he needs to stay IN PRISON - he can give some of his illegally obtained millions to other eye doctors to treat the poor while he is serving time in prison - that should bode well for him when the state sentences him later. After he is done with his sentences, if he still refuses to cooperate in turning over the other corrupt politicians, they should hold him in contempt of court until he does speak out and tells all. He is such a liar and a cheat and a crook - he needs to be made a big example of how to deal with corrupt politicians who steal from the public and taxpayers. He should lose his license permanently for his dishonesty. He can pick up trash on the highway and do laundry like the other prisoners.

  • Know All Jul 10, 2007

    Well, Well, Well, what a tangled web we weave. This used up politician has had some good days. He has done some good. Yea right, for himself. Again I say put a fence around downtown Raleigh and "let the show begin." Tickets will sell. Trust me. "I Know."

  • lawdogzwife Jul 10, 2007

    Oh, poor Mr. Black may have to actually be punished for what he did wrong. Guess he should have tought about that BEFORE he broke the law!

  • paythepiper Jul 10, 2007

    Just sounds like the chickens coming home to roost to me.

  • bornbredtarheel Jul 10, 2007

    amen pinklady 1!!