RALEIGH, N.C. — He's a disgraced former elected official who was just released from prison for his role in a public corruption scandal. But Garey Ballance doesn't think he's down and out. In fact, he's already talking about getting back into politics.
In August, Ballance walked out of a federal prison where he had served eight months of a nine-month sentence for a misdemeanor income tax charge. On Friday night, however, the former district court judge's friends surrounded him at a reception in Raleigh held in his honor. He said he's relieved and ready to put his jail term behind him.
"I'm doing well," Ballance said. "Glad to be home and just looking forward to getting my life back on track."
Ballance resigned from the bench a year ago after pleading guilty to tax evasion. The charges involved the use of state money that went to purchase a luxury SUV. Prosecutors charged the money was funneled from his father, former U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance.
Garey Ballance was in the same prison where his father is serving a four-year sentence for mail fraud and money laundering.
"As an adult, you sort of get away from your parents and you don't spend as much time with them," said Garey Ballance. "But I got to spend some time with him (in prison.) And given the fact that he's still there, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to spend some time with him."
Garey Ballance said that he doesn't want to dwell on the past. He said he'll rely on the court of public opinion to decide if his punishment fit the crime for a misdemeanor tax charge.
"I'm looking forward to getting active in local politics in my community and maybe getting active in a state and national level," he said.
Before that happens, Garey Ballance has to go before the state's judicial standards, which could bar him from ever running for a judicial seat. Also, he still has to deal with his State Bar suspension, which he said would end in a few days. He said he's also looking forward to returning to practicing law.