Former Perdue staffer pleads guilty to obstruction

Posted September 21, 2012

— A former aide to Gov. Beverly Perdue pleaded guilty Friday to a misdemeanor obstruction of justice charge in connection with secret salary payments she received while working on the Democrat's 2008 campaign.

Julia Leigh Sitton was sentenced to 45 days in jail, which was suspended to 12 months on unsupervised probation. Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens also ordered her to pay a $5,000 fine and barred her from working for or raising money for political campaigns or groups while on probation.

As part of a plea agreement, a campaign finance violation was dismissed.

"Everyone seems to think the rules don't mean anything and the truth doesn't mean anything," Stephens said. "Although this is sheer political foolishness, it still rises to the level of criminal conduct."

Sitton, a Morganton lawyer who resigned last year as director of the governor's Western Office, didn't speak during the court hearing and declined to comment afterward.

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said Perdue fundraising chairman Peter Reichard persuaded a Burke County businessman to pay for Sitton's work as a campaign fundraiser under the guise of her working as a consultant for Reichard's firm, Tryon Capital Ventures.

Sitton was paid $30,000 for working on the campaign from August 2007 to November 2008, Willoughby said.

"No consulting was provided. The defendant worked full time for the campaign," he said. "These (payments) were not disclosed in campaign reports."

Reichard, of Greensboro, pleaded guilty in December to funneling the secret payments to Sitton through Tryon Capital Ventures.

Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby DA: Campaign finance violations damage democratic process

Defense attorney Joe Zeszotarski said Sitton wants to put the episode behind her. He said she is unemployed and struggling financially.

"This is a matter that has caused her great embarrassment, great concern," Zeszotarski said.

The charges against Sitton and Reichard resulted from a State Board of Elections investigation into flights Perdue took aboard donor's planes during her 2004 and 2008 campaigns that weren't reported properly. The elections board fined the campaign $30,000 two years ago.

Perdue has acknowledged that her campaign made mistakes reporting flights, but has maintained that there was no criminal intent.

Willoughby said there was no evidence that the governor was aware of the activities of Sitton and Reichard.

Longtime Perdue friend Trawick "Buzzy" Stubbs still faces charges that he provided his private plane to the campaign for several flights that weren't properly reported.

Willoughby said campaign finance violations have historically been treated lightly, as "boys being boys" offenses.

"These are serious problems," he said. "They're like termites in your house. You don't see the damage until it's already over. The public loses confidence in the process."


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  • driverkid3 Sep 21, 2012

    MadMaxx, still sounds like "Walk the dog" to me!

  • driverkid3 Sep 21, 2012

    BaracOmaMustGo2012, she hasn't disappeared, she's flitting all around the world on the taxpayers dime.

  • Nancy Sep 21, 2012

    Tip of the proverbial iceberg, just like Weasley's group - only no one higher up will ever have to pay up.

  • bdaughtry2 Sep 21, 2012

    > The whole thing is tragic if it weren't so Carolina laughable...
    - teleman60

    And you're okay with where George Soro's spends his money, right? Hypocrite.

  • teleman60 Sep 21, 2012

    Listen to the voices -- two piper cub plane flights and a woman working 40 hrs a week for over a year for $30000 less taxes,WOW!!

    Art Pope spent $13 MILLION to buy the races of republicans in 2010 to take over the NC Legislature. Why do we not hear any investigations of questionable practices about that?

    The Koch Bros are tied to the True the Vote people who tried to get 30000 people disenfranchised UNTIL NBC News and the Justice Dept stopped them.

    1 paid campaign employee and 2 plane flights vs $13 million plus the Koch Bros millions to steal elections.

    The whole thing is tragic if it weren't so Carolina laughable...

  • wildpig777 Sep 21, 2012

    ATTN ATTN -READ MY FONT - THE NC "justice" system is overwhemingly democrat-- that oughta tell some of yall something.

    Imade the observation over 5 count'em 5 yrs ago that - chicago politics aint got nottin on nc politics. I stand by that statement.

  • kidsrn Sep 21, 2012

    "Easley and Perdue have BOTH had blatant corruption under their administrations

    YET North Carolina Democrats will STILL vote Democrat this November...still thinking that a Democrat NC government will give them a handout." --- Air Biscuit

    This comment deserves to be re-posted. Simple, yet true.

  • Objective Scientist Sep 21, 2012

    "Another female thrown under the Democrat bus."
    post by dirtydozen431
    September 21, 2012 5:24 p.m.

    I have been a very VERY INDEPENDENT independent for decades - far longer than it has been at least somewhat "fashionable" to be an independent. I can, unequivocally, say that if I had seen the EXACT same characteristics in a male governor I would feel the same and say the same thing I now feel and say about Perdue. She was an incredibly ineffective governor! Don't be too quick to "charge" people who criticize someone with a "thrown under the bus" action. It just may be that the criticism is both accurate and deserved! I'm not a Democrat and I'm not "throwing anyone under a bus"! I've seen NC Governors come and NC Governors go over several decades. Some were "tainted", at minimum, but still managed to have some minimal level of effectivenss. I did not see that in Perdue.

  • Objective Scientist Sep 21, 2012

    September 21, 2012 4:52 p.m.

    Personally... as a staunch political INDEPENDENT I am not at all "thrilled" with the choice we have - the option of either Dalton or McCrory! I'd love to have more options than those two!

  • dirtydozen431 Sep 21, 2012

    Another female thrown under the Democrat bus.