Former Congressman Receives Send-Off Before Heading To Prison
Posted December 4, 2005 4:21 a.m. EST
MURFREESBRO, N.C. — A former congressman due to start a four-year prison term for funneling more than $2 million of taxpayer money into his nonprofit foundation said he does not believe he should be going to prison at all.
Frank Ballance Jr. made the comment Saturday during a send-off by supporters at Nebo Baptist Church in Murfreesboro.
"It just validates what I've already known that friends stand by you," Ballance said. "Regardless of hardships and difficulties in life, friends don't let you down."
Ballance, 63, must report by Dec. 30 to begin serving time for conspiring to divert taxpayer money to his law firm and family through a charitable organization he helped found.
"People who know me don't feel like I let them down because they don't believe -- the only conspiracy in this case is the one put on by the federal government," Ballance said.
Ballance told the crowd there is another, untold, side of the story -- his side. But he said he was not ready to share it yet -- but will eventually, possibly by writing a book.
The Democrat was a longtime state legislator before he was elected to represent the 1st Congressional District in 2002. He stepped down in June 2004, before his first term was completed, citing ill health.
A 51-page federal indictment filed that September said that, between 1994 and 2003, he channeled $2.3 million in state money to the nonprofit John A. Hyman Memorial Foundation he operated to help poor people fight drug and alcohol abuse.
Ballance agreed to plead guilty in November 2004 to conspiring to commit mail fraud and launder money. He was sentenced last month.
Many of his family members also attended the three-hour luncheon, including his son, former District Court Judge Garey Ballance, who pleaded guilty in April for failing to file an income tax return in 2000. He resigned in October after he was sentenced to nine months in prison. He has until Jan. 2 to turn himself in to prison authorities.
He was not required to resign by law, although the state's Judicial Standards Commission was investigating the case.