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FBI Agent: Meg Scott Phipps Personally Received Illegal Payments

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A hearing in Wake County Superior Court Tuesday adds a new twist to the investigation into Meg Scott Phipps' campaign finances.

FBI agent Andy Thomure told of two times in 2000 that Skyride operator Jimmie Drew handed over illegal payments directly to Phipps.

Thomure's testimony contradicts Phipps' past claims she never handled campaign cash. Last year, Linda Saunders, Phipps' former assistant, told members of the State Board of Elections in a hearing that Phipps did not handle money.

"Meg does not do money. I mean she does not keep up with the finances at home. She doesn't keep up with them in the campaign," she said.

Saunders has since pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud and extortion, along with Bobby McLamb. Phipps has already been indicted by the Wake County grand jury for lying and trying to cover up illegal loans and contributions.

Drew pleaded guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor count of obstruction of justice. He said in court that he misled authorities about the scandal involving Phipps.

"Mr. Drew terribly regretted that he had not been fully forthcoming with his involvement," said Dan Boyce, Drew's attorney.

Drew admitted he made two illegal cash payments directly to Phipps, which never showed up in campaign finance reports. He said he plans to fully cooperate with state and federal authorities.

"The investigation is ongoing. There may be additional charges against other people," Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said.

Officials said Drew made a third payment of $5,000 to the campaign in 2001. Shortly after, he received lucrative contracts to operate cable lift rides at the state fairs in Raleigh and Asheville. Those contracts have since been voided by the state.

State officials said they are not going to have a Skyride operator for this year's state fair.

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