Local Politics

Ballance: 'I didn't get a fair trial'

Posted July 7, 2009
Updated July 10, 2009

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— Former North Carolina Congressman Frank Ballance says he was unfairly targeted by federal prosecutors and never should have spent time in prison.

In his first interview since his release, Ballance told WRAL News that prosecutors used lies and threats to get him to plead guilty in 2004 to using a nonprofit to divert taxpayer money.

Frank Ballance Web only: Ballance discusses case, life after prison

The former Democratic congressman from Warrenton pleaded guilty to funneling $2.3 million in state funds through the Hyman Foundation, a nonprofit drug treatment center that he helped start, to his family, law firm and church

Prosecutors said Ballance used more than $100,000 to pay his legal bills, helped his son buy a Lincoln Navigator, paid his daughter for computer services she didn't perform and shared $143,250 with his mother to pay for community programs.

"I didn't get a fair trial," he said, maintaining that politics and race were factors in the case. "That's one of the things I'll speak out about. One of the hallmarks of our system is that everyone will get a fair trial."

Ballance said prosecutors threatened to charge his 86-year-old mother unless he pleaded guilty.

"You know how these guys operate. They don't tell you directly what they're going to do, but they send a message (that), if there's a plea, everything else goes away," he said.

U.S. Attorney George Holding said there was "no evidence statements made at (Ballance's) hearing prejudiced the court."

Holding said he recognized Ballance's lengthy record of public service – he served in the legislature before running for Congress – and added, "In the future, I hope he will continue in some form of public service."

Ballance, 67, was released from the federal prison in Butner in March and finished his sentence under home confinement. He still must serve two years of probation.

He said the best part of being back in his Raleigh home is being able to get up at night to get some water from the refrigerator.

"Mainly, it's gaining some degree of control over your life," he said.

Ballance said he wants to start another foundation – with his own money – to help people recently released from prison. He also plans to seek reinstatement of his law license.

"Bitterness eats you up on the inside," he said. "It's hard to love – as they say in the Bible, love your enemies – but you've got to figure out a way not to hate them. That's where I am."

An annual rally in Northampton County scheduled for Saturday will celebrate Ballance's commitment to serving the community.


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  • SANDHILL Jul 8, 2009

    "I did not get a fair trial" what bull, He plead guilty so no trial, and it was a sweet deal for him. Mama got off the charge of receiving stolen money, and he got less time than if he had been tried and found guilty. The whole family was on the take and he also said he might sue because he did not get a furlough from prison. He did get a two month early release. It makes me so sad to hear his tale of woe. He should still be in prison as he stole money from all of us.

  • doggone Jul 8, 2009

    I can't believe WRAL provided a forum to this crook. Shame on you -- why does he in particular deserve to have a soapbox to stand on -- he was convicted fair and square. Now he plays the race card.

    Don't do the crime and you won't serve the time!

  • streetfightinman Jul 8, 2009

    Anyone who pleads guilty, is guilty nice try you got caught
    and you pull the race card, classic you should have never gotten out of prison because you are a lier and a cheat.

  • colliedave Jul 8, 2009

    Ballance said prosecutors threatened to charge his 86-year-old mother unless he pleaded guilty

    The prosecutors could not of threatend to charge his mother uunless they had evidence that she, like his son, was on the take. Also, the Federal Camp at Butner isn't as bad as other prisons in the Federal system. The guy seems not to have learned his lesson.

  • beachboater Jul 8, 2009

    When will the race card go away?

    This is disgusting. If you are not guilty, you plead not guilty. The prosecution has to prove it's case, against you or your 86 year old mother. If there was nothing there, what could they charge her with?

    The whole thing sounds like a family affair, with a Balanced distribution of funds.

  • FoxtrotUniformCharlieKiloakaCALM Jul 8, 2009

    is it me or do you think he's just trying to gain the attention of the NAACP because he thinks they will see a black man and the words "unfair" and jump to his defense....

  • Poison Ivy Jul 8, 2009

    Oh, cry me a river! Prosecutors couldn't have used his mother against him if they didn't have something on her too. And his daughter. And his son. And a lot of so-called ministers. Frank may have been interviewed in Raleigh, but he and Gary (his former judge son) are spending a lot of time in downtown Warrenton. Almost every day. And by the way, the 4th Annual Freedom Rally to raise money for Frank is being held in Garysburg this weekend if anyone wants to buy a ticket!

  • ForestForestGump Jul 8, 2009

    Oh Pllleassee! He is guilty, a whole 2.3 million dollars worth! He is a crook; time served; shut up - quit whining!

    Just you wait - he'll be placed on a pedistal by his lackies. Some people who have no conscience (sp?) and see no wrong doing. He was "wronged".

    Just makes me sick!

  • trainloadr Jul 8, 2009

    Such a sad story - a criminal getting caught and having to spend some time in prison.

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy Jul 8, 2009

    could it be because he's BLACK? this is stupid...he's a criminal!