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Former State Ag Commissioner Phipps Faces Bribery, Extortion Charges

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A federal grand jury returned a new indictment Thursday against former State Ag Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps.

The new charges are bribery and extortion for allegedly accepting $2,000 in cash from a concessionaire at the 2001 State Fair. The federal government also alleges the Phipps campaign benefited from a program that received federal funds.

Roger Smith, Phipps' attorney, took the two additional charges in stride, saying it is more of the same.

"There is no new theory in there and it doesn't change the government's underlying theory about the case," he said.

The new indictment replaces the old one and brings the current number of charges against Phipps to 30.

Three of her former aides, including then-deputy agriculture commissioner Mike Blanton, have pleaded guilty to extortion and other charges surrounding the scandal.

Phipps resigned her post earlier this summer. She is set to go to trial in November.

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