Local Politics

Ex-Speaker Black pays half of fine in corruption case

Posted June 26, 2008
Updated June 27, 2008

— Former state House Speaker Jim Black paid $500,000 Thursday toward the $1 million fine that is part of his sentence for a state obstruction of justice conviction.

Black pleaded guilty in February 2007 to bribery and obstruction charges and was supposed to have paid the fine six months ago. Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens approved the motion for an extension until July 1 to pay the fine.

Whit Powell, a Raleigh lawyer representing Black, said the payment was made Thursday afternoon, and that Stephens agreed to a six-month extension for the remaining $500,000.

Powell provided this statement from Black on Thursday:

I have always intended to leave a portion of my estate to help secure the enhancement of North Carolina's public educational system. While this payment comes a wee bit premature, I gladly give it knowing that North Carolina's children will be the beneficiaries.

According to the terms of his sentence, the money from the fine goes to the Wake County Public School System.

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.


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  • Madonna Jun 27, 2008

    I totally agree with jesmyopinion. "Cleaning house" at state govenment could be a wonderful revenue stream for us. The $1 million fine should continue to be enforced for these types of crimes. In Jim Black's case, I thought the amount should have been higher.

  • now Jun 27, 2008

    You are right mramorak but it is money stolen from you. We need more of these Liberal tax and spend people to be sitting where he is.

  • mramorak Jun 27, 2008


  • now Jun 27, 2008

    All these comments about the corruption and shear hatred of how things are run in downtown Raleigh. I hear all of this complaining all the time and I am one of the ones that complains.

    So I have a question. Why do the SAME PEOPLE (mainly tax and spend Liberal Democrats) get voted back in election after election?

  • jones3 Jun 27, 2008

    Who's decision was it to give this million dollars to the Wake Co. school system? All of the school systems in this state need extra money just as much they do. Wake Co. schools are not more important than the others. I am a former Wake Co. school parent that b/c of the rapid growth of that area and the extreme overcrowding of the schools and roads, chose to move to a neighboring county where the schools are of the same quality (not overcrowded)and could also use that extra money.

  • alx Jun 27, 2008

    Convicted felon Democrat Jim Black is again showing that he doesn't have to play by the same rules as the people of North Carolina. I only hope the good people of our state aren't so mentally thick-headed as to for get Democratic arrogance this November. They have consistently shown that in North Carolina, the Democratic Party is a Culture of Corruption

  • djofraleigh Jun 26, 2008

    How is it that Jim Black can keep his million from July til now, which would be 50,000 in interest if I owed the government that much money, and gets another year to get the rest?

    You can bet Black is getting interest on his million dollar investment.

    I wish the judge had just let him keep his money and gave Black the other two years to do.

    Of course, if Black has sold his property while still in office he would have gotten three times as much as it was worth from someone wanting a favor.

  • Just the facts mam Jun 26, 2008

    We need to get more of the thieves in the NC House and Senate to join former Speaker Black in prison - but send them to the state prison rather than the country club prison, and have them all pay a $1 million dollar fine...

  • twc Jun 26, 2008

    So what he is saying is that the children are paying his fine. He should pay his fine AND leave the money "he intended to leave."