Local News

Former State Ag Commissioner To Be Sentenced Tuesday

Posted March 2, 2004

— Former state Ag commissioner Meg Scott Phipps will soon learn her sentence for her role in a campaign finance scandal.

At 2 p.m. Tuesday, she will be sentenced in federal court in Greenville. In November, Phipps pleaded guilty to five federal charges related to campaign fraud.

At that time, Phipps stood in court to apologize for her campaign finance scandal. However, e-mails and a holiday card show a much different sentiment from Phipps and her family. In e-mails to friends, Phipps' sisters claimed investigators and prosecutors used intimidation tactics to win the case.

In a holiday card, Phipps herself wrote: "There is so much I want to say, but I'm not allowed. Someday, my side will be told."

It is not known whether the federal judge will take Phipps' statements into account during sentencing.

Last week, prosecutors recommended the maximum sentence of nearly five years in prison. The judge will have the final say.

There is also more fallout in the public corruption scandal.

Three other Phipps' aides -- Mike Blanton, Linda Saunders and Bobby McLamb -- face sentencing on Wednesday.

Retired deputy commissioner Weldon Denny agreed to plead guilty to obstruction of justice. Federal agents said Denny knew about the exchange of illegal money, but hindered the investigation. He is due in federal court on April 5.

Rocky Mount businessman Norman Chambliss agreed to plead guilty to a charge of making false statements to federal investigators. Officials said he helped to orchestrate an illegal loan deal. He later testified against Phipps in her state trial.

Investigators do not think Chambliss or Denny will serve prison time.

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