Local News

Black Expected to Plead Guilty to Felony Charge

Posted February 15, 2007

— Former House Speaker Jim Black is expected to plead guilty Thursday in court to a federal corruption charge.

Black will plead guilty to one count of accepting illegal gratuities, a felony charge that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to current House Speaker Joe Hackney.

Black, who resigned his legislative seat Wednesday, said in a letter to Hackney that "it has been an honor and a privilege to serve in the North Carolina House of Representatives and represent the people of Mecklenburg County during the last 25 years."

Black was a prolific fundraiser, piling up scores of donations from individuals and special interests for both himself and other Democratic candidates. Observers said that was at the root of his downfall.

Critics filed campaign finance complaints against Black with the State Board of Elections, which led to hearings a year ago into how Black raised money from optometrists, video poker operators and other groups.

"I'm afraid the demands on him to raise millions of dollars just crunched. It took a good person and turned him into a bad person, and a crime was committed," said Bob Hall, executive director of government watchdog group Democracy North Carolina.

Former federal prosecutor Kieran Shanahan said the focus now though, is on Black's expected plea agreement. It could call for Black to cooperate with prosecutors and point the finger at other lawmakers.

"I think there's a legitimate interest on the government to try and discover other wrongdoing there may have been and bring other people to justice," he said.

The executive committee of the Mecklenburg County Democrats will have to meet to name Black's replacement. Gov. Mike Easley will then officially appoint that person to serve the rest of Black's two-year term.


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  • blueridgelab Feb 15, 2007

    A plea deal is already in the making. Black will l spill what he knows about the other legislators who are less than honest, in exchange for a more lenient sentence. The best we can hope for is that the Feds will get enough information to clean house and still put Black away.

    Too many politicians believe "The end justifies the means." You can never do good by doing wrong.

  • InTheWind Feb 15, 2007

    Now that it has been shown that Mr. Black and his friends are less than honest, shouldn't the sneaky way the lottery (that is not working) was voted in should be investigated? We should also investigate Mr. Black's good friend Mr. Easley. He sure has been quiet lately. Hmmm, could there be a skeleton Mr. Black's in is closet?

  • shizit0150 Feb 15, 2007

    there are several four letter words that would sum up jim black and all his goons! What a disgrace to our state oh well maybe the four letter words could be used for the folks that re-elected him. ha ha ha

  • davidgnews Feb 15, 2007

    The good-ol-boy network prevails. Meg Scott Phipps is in prison, and he may just get a slap on the wrist. She couldn't have done worse than him.

  • Monkeywrench Feb 15, 2007

    I don't care WHICH PARTY, if they violate public trust and use their office to commit crime, they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

  • Monkeywrench Feb 15, 2007

    If Black doesn't serve time, it will be a gross miscarriage of justice. His partner in crime got time. If Black doesn't get time for the same crooked deal, it will once again prove that the rich and powerful get special treatment. We have to send politicians the message loud and strong that the old culture of corruption will not be tolerated, and if caught they will pay the consequences. What Black did is about the worst thing I can think of an elected official can do. He cooked up a corrupt deal to steal the power in the House from Republicans. Like rigging an election (what's the penalty for that?) only infinitely worse. Meg Scott Phipps and her associates served time, and their crime didn't have nearly the impact on the citizens that Black's crime did. What are the ramifications of his crime? One can only imagine. If Republicans did not have control of the House stolen from them, we wouldn't have the lottery, might have a marriage amendment, be tougher on illegals, ...

  • Blackbeard Feb 15, 2007

    >>>All I have been hearing from his associates is about what he has done for NC during his time as a representative.

    I agree, gcarter1 -- it was surprising to see how many legislators spoke out in support of him, in spite of what the evidence shows. I think they must be scared to say anything else. He finally got caught, but he's probably got plenty of dirt on the rest of them, so they don't want to risk their careers by speaking against him. Which is why he'll never do a minute of jail time....

  • Gatsby Feb 15, 2007

    Jim did alot of good while in office. He got the lotto passed so Wake Co. would not have to ask for a bond every year to build schools and save the taxpayers $$$...What's that...They still are asking for more every year?? Investigate please ...

  • pearp003 Feb 15, 2007

    Finally the man decides to quit. He most likely got all his money hidden and can't afford a fine and knowing our legal system now he will get his hands slap. Send him to jail now.

  • stevenpeters Feb 15, 2007

    The next step should be an investigation of the North Carolina
    Optometric Board. They have a national reputation for being