Local News

Associate Of House Speaker Jim Black Surrenders To Authorities

Posted September 27, 2006

— An indicted optometrist with political ties to House Speaker Jim Black surrendered Wednesday to authorities.

Michael Scott Edwards arrived at the Wake County magistrate's office with his attorney and was taken into custody by two members of the State Bureau of Investigation. A Wake County grand jury indicted Edwards Tuesday on four counts of felony perjury for failing to file accurate campaign finance reports for the political action committee of the N.C. State Optometric Society.

Members of the society's political action committee allegedly gave Edwards checks on which the payee lines were left blank. Many of those checks were passed on to Black. The payee lines were filled in and that money was later distributed. Prosecutors allege that by not reporting the contributions, the optometric committee bypassed legal spending limits.

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said Tuesday that a court order last month for Black's campaign to return $6,800 in illegal campaign donations resulted in the charges against Edwards.

Stephen Smith, Edwards' attorney, said he and his client plan to fight the charges against him.

"We strongly disagree with the DA's interpretation of the law. Dr. Edwards believed then and believes now that all of the campaign finance reports he submitted were truthful and fully followed the law," Smith said.

Edwards is expected to be released later Wednesday on $10,000 bond.

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