Local News

Ex-congressman serving prison time at home

Posted April 13, 2009 4:12 p.m. EDT
Updated April 13, 2009 5:43 p.m. EDT

— Former North Carolina Rep. Frank Ballance has been released from prison but is serving the rest of his four-year federal sentence under home confinement.

Court documents show that Ballance, 67, has also filed a lawsuit claiming that the warden of the Federal Prison Camp at Butner violated his constitutional rights by denying furloughs.

The government has asked that the lawsuit be thrown out since Ballance is no longer in the Butner prison, according to court documents. Ballance has two weeks to decide whether to continue with the lawsuit.

The former Democratic congressman from Warrenton pleaded guilty in 2004 to diverting taxpayer money to his family, law firm and church through the Hyman Foundation, a non-profit drug treatment center that he helped start. He began serving his sentence in December 2005, but sentences can be reduced for good behavior.

Community correction manager Gary Moore, with the Federal Bureau of Prisons official, said Monday that Ballance is scheduled to complete his term June 23, followed by two years of parole. He was released from prison March 23.

Moore said that Ballance is wearing an electronic surveillance bracelet that prevents him from leaving his home. He must check with his parole officer before leaving the house.

The charges stemmed from accusations that Ballance funneled $2.3 million in state money from the Hyman Foundation and used more than $100,000 for personal and family use. Prosecutors said Ballance used foundation money to pay his legal bills, give $20,000 to his son, Garey Ballance, for a Lincoln Navigator; pay his daughter $5,000 for computer services she didn't perform; and to share $143,250 with his mother to pay for community programs.

As part of his sentence, Ballance agreed to repay about $62,000 and to forfeit $203,000 in a bank escrow account for to the foundation.

While in prison, Ballance has claimed innocence, saying that he pleaded guilty because investigators were intimidating his mother and he wanted to save the career of his son, who was a judge at the time. Ballance has claimed that prosecutors threatened to charge his son with a felony instead of a misdemeanor unless he pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

The younger Ballance served eight months in prison for misdemeanor failing to report $20,000 in income from the foundation on a federal tax return. He was also disbarred until 2010.

Ballance served in the General Assembly before being elected to Congress in 2002. He resigned in June 2004, citing his ill health.