Local News

Grand Jury Hears From State Senator About Money, Nonprofits

Posted December 1, 2004

— A high-ranking member of North Carolina's state Senate appeared before a federal grand jury Wednesday to discuss a former congressman's nonprofit organization.

Prosecutors subpoenaed Sen. Marc Basnight in connection with the Hyman Foundation, a Warren County nonprofit that received more than $2 million in state funds.

Former state and federal lawmaker Frank Ballance, who started the foundation, pleaded guilty to fraudulently funneling taxpayer money for his family's personal gain. Ballance reached a deal in November, pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering. Ballance has not been sentenced yet, but he is expected to get jail time.

Basnight, who spoke to the grand jury for nearly four hours, said he was not happy the incident happened on his watch.

"They were fair questions. They want to know the truth. They want to know how this happened and they fully want to understand this, so there was nothing out of the ordinary or that anyone could question what they were doing," he said.

Basnight said he supported legislation in the past session that tightens financial oversight of nonprofits that get state funds. Lawmakers must now disclose their affiliations and the organizations must submit spending reports to the state budget office and auditor.

Basnight would not speculate on who else may be involved in the scandal, except to say that he was not. He said he answered every question truthfully and has not been asked to return to testify when the grand jury meets Thursday.

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