Local Politics

Black pays off $1M criminal fine

Posted May 15, 2009 5:35 p.m. EDT
Updated July 16, 2009 3:37 p.m. EDT

— Former House Speaker Jim Black has paid off a $1 million fine stemming from criminal charges he pleaded guilty to two years ago.

Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens on Friday signed off on an agreement to transfer the title of property owned by Black in Matthews, N.C., to settle the $500,000 balance of the fine, Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said. Black paid the other half of the fine in cash last summer.

Stephens imposed the fine in July 2007 as part of Black's sentence on a state obstruction of justice charge for paying former Forsyth County Rep. Michael Decker $50,000 to switch to the Democratic Party in 2003. The move helped Black retain a share of the House speakership.

Black, a 74-year-old Mecklenburg County Democrat, held the top position in the state House for a record eight years before resigning in February 2007 and pleading guilty to state and federal charges.

In addition to bribery, he pleaded guilty to a state obstruction of justice charge for encouraging chiropractors to fudge when speaking to authorities about cash they had given him. The judge initially imposed a December 2007 deadline for paying the fine – he threatened more prison time if it wasn't met – but he extended the deadline because of the economic downturn.

He also pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge stemming from the chiropractors' cash donations and is now serving a 63-month sentence at the Federal Prison Camp in Lewisburg, Pa.

By law, the $1 million fine will go to the Wake County school district.