Local News

Judge Sentences Phipps On State Charges

Posted May 7, 2004 3:48 a.m. EDT

— A Wake County judge has sentenced Meg Scott Phipps, the former state agriculture commissioner, to serve 16 to 20 months in prison on state perjury charges. The sentence will run concurrent to the four-year federal sentence Phipps is now serving.

Phipps, the daughter and granddaughter of former governors, is serving her federal sentence at the Alderson, W.Va., Federal Prison Camp for women.

Federal and state indictments said Phipps took illegal contributions in exchange for midway contracts at the North Carolina State Fair. Phipps also acknowledged that some of that money was converted to her personal use and that she falsely testified to state elections officials.

On Friday, Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens scolded the former ag commissioner, calling her actions a disgrace to the office.

"They have added fuel to the cynical views of some citizens that all elected officials and politicians from the courthouse to the White House are corrupt and not to be trusted," Stephens said.

Stephens then reminded her what the campaign scandal cost her.

"You forfeited your office by resignation. You lost your law license and you've been sentenced to four years in a federal penitentiary," he said.

Defense lawyer Wade Smith said he had wanted the sentence to be concurrent, meaning Phipps wouldn't have to serve more time when her federal sentence ends.

"It was No. 1 on our wish list and hope list and I think it's very, very just," Smith said.

District Attorney Colon Willoughby said the conviction would "reassure the public that everyone is accountable. It ought to show that in this state we don't give a wink and a nod and let this kind of conduct go."

After the judge gave his decision, Phipps turned, told her family she loved them, and then headed back to her federal prison cell in West Virginia.

Three Phipps aides -- Mike Blanton, Linda Saunders and Bobby McLamb -- are serving time in federal prison for their role in the campaign scandal. Rocky Mount businessman Norman Chambliss is still waiting to be sentenced on federal obstruction of justice charges.