Local Politics

Supreme Court ruling could free ex-lottery commissioner

Posted June 25, 2010 1:07 p.m. EDT

— A federal judge has asked prosecutors for their take on whether former North Carolina lottery commissioner Kevin Geddings should be freed from prison following a ruling Thursday by the U.S. Supreme Court curtailing the use of an anti-fraud law.

Geddings, 45, was convicted in October 2006 of five counts of mail fraud. Prosecutors said he defrauded the state of honest services in late 2005 by failing to disclose more than $250,000 in payments his public relations firm received from lottery systems maker, Scientific Games Corp., which was trying to win the contract to provide lottery equipment to North Carolina.

He was sentenced in 2007 to four years in prison and is scheduled to be released on Christmas Eve.

The Supreme Court voted 6-3 Thursday to keep the honest services law in force, even as justices joined unanimously in weakening it. The court said prosecutors could continue to seek honest services fraud convictions in cases where they put forward evidence that defendants accepted bribes or kickbacks.

"Geddings was not convicted under a bribe or kickback theory at trial. Rather, Geddings was convicted under the undisclosed-self-dealing theory that the Supreme Court expressly rejected," U.S. District Judge James Dever wrote in an order issued Thursday.

Dever gave prosecutors until Tuesday to file their arguments on whether Geddings should be released from prison or have his conviction thrown out altogether.