Local Politics

Black Gets Extension to Pay $1M Fine

Posted December 7, 2007

— Disgraced former state House Speaker Jim Black on Friday was granted an extension to pay a $1 million fine on a state obstruction of justice conviction.

Black pleaded guilty in February to bribery and obstruction charges and was supposed to have paid the fine by next Monday or face the possibility of extra prison time.

The 72-year-old Mecklenburg County Democrat had planned to sell property he owns in the Charlotte area to pay off the fine. However, said Whit Powell, a Raleigh lawyer representing Black, potential buyers knew of the deadline to pay the fine and have been waiting Black out to get a better deal.

Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens approved the motion for an extension until July 1 to pay the fine. Black is providing the court with a promissory note and deed of trust, which guarantee that the state will take control of the property if it isn't sold by then, Powell said.

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby and the Wake County school system, which receives proceeds from criminal fines and forfeitures, don't oppose the extension, Powell said.

Black is serving a 63-month sentence in a federal prison camp in Lewisburg, Pa., after pleading guilty in February to a political corruption charge.

He had served a record eight years as House speaker and was a legendary legislative dealmaker and Democratic Party fundraiser before resigning his seat in February and pleading guilty to state and federal charges.

The bribery charge stemmed from Black's actions in early 2003 after the Republicans had won a narrow majority in the House.

Former Forsyth County Rep. Michael Decker said Black gave him $50,000 to switch to the Democratic Party and back his candidacy for speaker, allowing Black to forge a power-sharing agreement with former GOP Rep. Richard Morgan. Authorities said much of the money given to Decker came from campaign donations from optometrists across North Carolina – Black is an optometrist – in which the payee line on the checks had been left blank.

The obstruction of justice charge stemmed from allegations that Black encouraged chiropractors to fudge when speaking to authorities about cash they had given to him. The cash payments, which topped $25,000, were the basis of the federal corruption charge because Black accepted the money while backing legislation favorable to the industry.

Stephens sentenced Black to eight to 10 months in prison on the obstruction charge, but said he would withhold sentencing on the bribery charge until Black paid his $1 million fine. If Black met the Dec. 10 deadline, he would receive a 19- to 23-month sentence, and both sentences would run concurrently with his federal sentence.

Stephens had said he would impose a harsher sentence if Black failed to meet the deadline for the fine.


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

Oldest First
View all
  • retired and luv it Dec 8, 2007

    Scrub pots, sweep floors and watch your back Jim!

  • superman Dec 7, 2007

    It takes awhile to get a loan for a million dollars. Mr Black knows that full well. I dont understand why the judge felt it necessary to allow him an extension-- When does he start paying interest on the fine?

  • twc Dec 7, 2007

    The only good jim black did for this state is so overshadowed by his criminal activities (probably only a fraction of what he did was ever brought to trial). He was supposed to be a lawmaker. A lawmaker violating laws for personal greed is worse than being a thug!! He deserves more than he got! He has at least one son who seems to have been in on the take, also!

    How dare anyone lump Judge Donald Stephens in with jim black!! Judge Stephens is an honorable judge!! Point out one shred of involvement with anything even resembling a violation of law or honor!! Don't throw the judge's honor around just because you disagree with the sentence!!

  • Tidbit Dec 7, 2007

    I only have one question - Do you think YOU would get the same extention?


  • whatelseisnew Dec 7, 2007

    Really a lot of good for the state? I expect he has been doing the kinds of things he is now doing jail time for during his entire political career. I doubt we will ever know how much harm he did to millions of North Carolinians. He should not leave that prison unless it is in a box or an urn.

  • gnew46 Dec 7, 2007

    Jim Black did a lot of good for the state before he allowed his position to get the better of him. At age 72, he will die in jail for committing a white collar crime. Thugs and murderers with a past criminal history get less time and punishment than Black did and are set free by the NC Parole
    Commission so that they can murder innocent people. They are the ones who should be rotting in prison. Black has no prior criminal record, as do the several hundred convicted murderers who are being set free.

  • The bozo Dec 7, 2007

    He should pay his fine from all the other money he has stashed away.

  • NCTravellinman Dec 7, 2007

    C'mon, RAL, if it were a Republican, you would state the more accurate, "Convicted Felon, Jim Black" instead of "disgraced"

  • The Fox Dec 7, 2007

    won't the buyers just wait out the new deadline?

  • Tax Man Dec 7, 2007

    Judge Stephens should add all Black's sentences together at the end of the Federal sentence if the fine is not paid by the July extension date, plus take the house. And all of Jim Black's assets should be seized and given to our schools.