Local News

Former Ag Commissioner Looks Forward to Life Beyond Prison

Posted April 22, 2007 10:34 p.m. EDT
Updated April 22, 2007 10:59 p.m. EDT

— Former state agriculture commissioner Meg Scott Phipps is scheduled to leave prison early Monday morning after serving a sentence on perjury and obstruction of justice charges.

Phipps pleaded guilty in 2003 to extorting illegal campaign contributions from carnival vendors seeking to influence the awarding of contracts at North Carolina state fairs when she was elected agriculture commissioner.

Phipps, the daughter and granddaughter of former governors, received the longest active sentence of seven. She is the last of four people sentenced to time behind bars in the probe to leave prison.

WRAL’s David Crabtree spoke to Phipps in the last televised interview she granted before indictment and trial. Shortly after her conviction, she was sent to the federal prison camp in Alderson, W.V.

In March of 2006, Crabtree traveled to the prison camp and visited Phipps. He later received a Christmas card containing a photo taken in front of a tree at Alderson.

In most of the letters Phipps sent to Crabtree, the former commissioner said she never wanted to talk publicly about her case or her time in prison. But two weeks ago, she wrote a letter to Crabtree giving him permission to talk about his visit and the content of their correspondence. She is unable to talk publicly about the conviction or the circumstances surrounding it.

While serving her sentence, Phipps taught English and other courses to her fellow inmates at Alderson. She became a friend and confidant of Martha Stewart during her own prison sentence at the camp.

She's done a fantastic job while she's been there," Phipps attorney Hill Allen said to the Associated Press.

In her correspondence, Phipps was emphatic that her faith in God and the support of her family are the things that got her through the past four years.

When Prisoner 23786-056 leaves Alderson on Monday, she plans to return to her home in Haw River, where she will remain under electronic surveillance until her term officially ends August 24.

She'll be wearing an electronic ankle bracelet that will allow her to go to her new job as the Christian education director at the Presbyterian church her family has attended for generations.

Phipps will make the trip home with her husband Bob at her side. Last week, he told Crabtree that his love for his wife has never wavered. He said their marriage is stronger than ever and that both of them are ready to begin a new chapter.