Local News

Former Congressman Expected to be Sentenced On Federal Charges

Posted October 11, 2005 7:52 a.m. EDT
Updated November 19, 2007 5:16 p.m. EST

— Former First District congressman and state lawmaker Frank Ballance built a reputation for working political deals and advocating for the poor and disadvantaged. After misusing taxpayer money, he now goes from a position of public trust and power to a likely prison term.

Attorney Joe Cheshire represents Ballance, who admitted he defrauded taxpayers through his non-profit drug treatment center in Warrenton.

"This is one of the saddest, most tragic situations in that regard that I've seen in 32 years of practicing law," Cheshire said.

As a state lawmaker, Ballance allegedly funneled more than $2 million in state funds to his organization, the Hyman Foundation, and used more than $100,000 of it for personal and family use. Authorities said he paid his legal bills, directed money to his mother's day care, and gave $20,000 to his son, Garey Ballance, for a Lincoln Navigator.

"[He] got caught up in handling the money and it caused him some legal problems," said Rep. Edd Nye, D-Bladen County.

Once those problems surfaced, Ballance's former colleagues voted to tighten rules regarding non-profit organizations and state money.

On Wednesday, Ballance, who faces up to five years in prison, is expected to stand before a federal judge to be sentenced.

"Frank has taken a huge fall and his legacy won't be what it ought to be," Cheshire said.

His son, a Warren County judge, will also be sentenced on a misdemeanor count of tax evasion. One question for him is whether he will keep his job as a judge. Because he will be sentenced for a misdemeanor charge, state law says he can stay on the bench.

Sentencing is expected to take place at the federal courthouse in Elizabeth City.