NC lawmaker charged with stealing from federal loan program

Posted July 17, 2012

— A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted state Rep. Stephen LaRoque on charges that he misappropriated federal funding from nonprofits that he runs.

LaRoque, R-Lenoir, is charged with four counts of converting U.S. Department of Agriculture loans to East Carolina Development Co. to his own use and four counts of laundering money by using federal funds to purchase an interest in a Greenville ice rink and a house that he then rented to one of his stepdaughters.

ECDC and another Kinston-based nonprofit LaRoque oversees, Piedmont Development Co., provide low-interest loans to small businesses in rural areas.

LaRoque couldn't be reached for comment, but Raleigh attorney Joe Cheshire released a statement contending that the lawmaker has done nothing wrong and was "disappointed" by the indictment.

"Rep. LaRoque is proud of what he has accomplished with his nonprofit corporations. The corporations’ work provided monies that led to new business and led to hundreds of jobs for North Carolinians who would otherwise have been unemployed," Cheshire said in the statement.

The 72-page indictment details years of alleged insider dealings, noting that LaRoque, his brother and his wife sat on the nonprofits' boards and that they routinely approved without comment loans LaRoque had already made. One of the loans was to a carpet business owned by the woman who would later become his wife at an interest rate about half that charged to other borrowers, according to the indictment.

LaRoque has paid himself close to $2 million since 1998 for running the nonprofits, along with another $133,000 in reimbursed expenses, according to the indictment.

He routed ECDC money through his management company to purchase vehicles, jewelry and other goods, the indictment alleges.

LaRoque, 48, has previously defended his work at the two agencies against allegations of wrongdoing.

In 2010, he filed a defamation lawsuit against his Democratic opponent, who questioned the nonprofit operations. The indictment alleges that he used federal loan funds to pay his legal fees in the suit.

He then fired back at left-leaning publication NC Policy Watch, which sorted through records of the two nonprofits and alleged conflicts of interest in several stories.

LaRoque served as co-chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee in the recent legislative session, but he lost his re-election bid in the May primary.


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  • ricky28501 Jul 20, 2012

    Stephen LaRoque's arrogance has caught up with him. He has always thought of himself as being above anyone or anything, even the law. He has made a practice of verbally beating down anyone who opposes him, regardless of party. I am glad the people of this state are finally seeing this so called public servant for what he really is, nothing more than a spoiled little adolescent in a grown person's body.

  • dbarber1157 Jul 18, 2012

    the nw republican majority is already learning how to act like the 140 yeat bunch of crooks , the democratic majority the people of this great state finally had the good sense to send packing. sounds like a chip off the ole Frank Ballance block. it dont take long for power and corruption to go to their heads like it did the crooks in the former democratic majority

  • Krimson Jul 18, 2012

    Go GOP! High five!!!

  • Come On_Seriously Jul 18, 2012

    Another gop hypocrite screaming with his pals about eliminating gov programs because of 'liberal abuse' and yet he is the one taking advantage of and misappropriating tax dollars.

    Want to know why the gop wants to eliminate gov oversight? Because it leads to catching people who break the law.

  • whats happening Jul 18, 2012

    good! let's keep cleaning house! I guess they feel like stealing is not stealing until you get caught!

  • mayhem Jul 18, 2012

    I can't quite understand why everybody has to pick on Republicans orDemocrats. Theres absolutely no difference between the two parties in this state. They say the same thing about each other and do the same thing once in office. They're all just a bunch of good ole Republicrats.

    I'll second that. There are maybe 10 real Democrats in the legislature.

  • SARCASTICLES Jul 18, 2012

    Amazingly, he claims to have "created JOBS JOBS JOBS"....with FEDERAL TAX MONEY HE STOLE. Heckuva way to lower them taxes, ya'll....I bet Grover Norquist is PROUD.

  • storchheim Jul 18, 2012

    I'm glad to read a handful of comments saying we need to stop fighting D and R, and unite against all crooks. Can we at least agree that less govt is a step in the right direction? Fewer crooks to keep an eye on.

    Next time you're asked to vote for new "programs" or taxes or boards - anything that increases the size of govt, vote No. Keep doing that till it's down to a manageable size. Remember the lunch police that took the girl's homemade sandwich away? Do we really need that much govt?

  • SARCASTICLES Jul 18, 2012

    As a NC native, I was skeptical about the NCGOP's claim of "restoring honor to our state government"........and I STILL am. Good luck in 2072, NCGOP. ;)

  • LANCER6 Jul 18, 2012

    Wonder why George Holding didn't indict/prosecute when he was U.S. Attorney? Wouldn't think it had anything to do with political affiliation do you? Maybe Georgie reserved his muti-million $$ investigations only on people whose last name started with an E (Easley, Edwards)? Perhaps he is one of the secret contributors to Georgie's Super PAC? Nahhh...got to be related to Jessie to contibute to Georgie's Super PAC.