Local Politics

Ballance completes federal sentence

Posted June 22, 2009 2:40 p.m. EDT
Updated July 7, 2009 5:15 p.m. EDT

— Former North Carolina Congressman Frank Ballance on Tuesday completed a four-year sentence for using a nonprofit to divert taxpayer money to his family, law firm and church.

Ballance was released from the federal prison in Butner two months ago and finished his sentence under home confinement. He still must serve two years of probation.

The former Democratic congressman from Warrenton pleaded guilty in 2004 to funneling $2.3 million in state funds through the Hyman Foundation, a nonprofit drug treatment center that he helped start, to his family, law firm and church.

Prosecutors said Ballance used more than $100,000 to pay his legal bills, helped his son buy a Lincoln Navigator, paid his daughter for computer services she didn't perform and shared $143,250 with his mother to pay for community programs.

As part of his sentence, Ballance agreed to repay about $62,000 and to forfeit $203,000 in a bank escrow account for to the foundation.

Ballance continues to maintain his innocence. He has said he pleaded guilty because investigators were intimidating his mother and because he wanted to save the career of his son, Garey Ballance, who was a judge at the time.

He told WRAL News Tuesday that he's written to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to complain about what he still considers an unfair case against him.

Garey Ballance served eight months in prison for misdemeanor failing to report $20,000 in income from the foundation on a federal tax return. He was also disbarred until 2010.

At age 67, Frank Ballance appears to be healthy, and he said he used his time behind bars to rest and learn computer skills.

He said he wants to make his remaining years useful ones, and he plans to form another foundation, called Redeemed, to rehabilitate drug users and keep them out of prison and to work to free people he believes were wrongly convicted.

Supporters have begun circulating fliers promoting a Freedom Rally next month in Frank Ballance's honor.