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Geddings: Black Knew Of Ties To Lottery Vendor

Posted September 15, 2006

— House Speaker Jim Black knew former North Carolina lottery commissioner Kevin Geddings had an ongoing relationship with a lottery vendor when Black appointed him to the commission last year, Geddings said Friday.

Geddings is scheduled to go on trial next week for nine federal counts of wire and mail fraud. Investigators allege he lied about his ties to Scientific Games, which was bidding to operate North Carolina's new lottery, when he was appointed to the lottery commission.

He told WRAL Friday that he made it clear to Black that he had a longstanding friendship with a Scientific Games vice president and a past business relationship with the company. He said he even warned Black of the potential for negative publicity, but Black chose to appoint him anyway.

Black has said several times since Geddings' resignation and indictment that he was shocked to learn of the extent of Geddings' business relationship with the company.

"I know the speaker is under intense political and legal scrutiny at this point. I feel like I'm in the middle of a battle royale between a Republican U.S. attorney and a Democratic speaker of the House," Geddings said.

A spokeswoman for Black said Friday that she believes he knew only of Geddings' past dealings with the South Carolina lottery. Although she didn't know of exact conversations between the two men regarding Scientific Games, she said Black never would have appointed Geddings had he known the timing and extent of the financial ties.

In court documents, prosecutors say Geddings not only lied about being paid more than $228,000 by Scientific Games, he tried to hide it. They point to thousands of dollars he received after his appointment.

Geddings said the money just covered his work from several weeks earlier. He said he is confident he will be vindicated when the facts come out in court, and he called the case a political prosecution.

"I find that appalling. We've got terrorists, pedofiles and drug dealers who need to be prosecuted, and instead, millions of dollars have been spent trying to go after me over the level of detail provided on an ethics form," he said. "If I could have avoided this nightmare for my family and my friends and for the potential to be ripped away from my family for the next 20 years by giving more detail, I would have done that."

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