WRAL Investigates

Raleigh council candidate boasts transparency despite criminal past

Posted May 25, 2011 6:00 p.m. EDT
Updated May 26, 2011 10:14 a.m. EDT

— A candidate running for the Raleigh City Council says “transparency is everything” and that he wants voters to know about his past. Yet, the WRAL Investigates team found holes in his campaign resume, including an extensive criminal record.

On May 18, Lent Carr II addressed the council on behalf of the city’s taxi drivers. Although he doesn’t own or drive a cab, Carr is president of recently formed North Carolina Taxi Workers Alliance Inc.

Carr, 37, describes himself as a concerned citizen, a leader and a person who deserves a second chance.

He spent more than a decade in federal prison after pleading guilty to arson and bank and mail fraud. An appeals court later vacated the arson plea due to a technicality. Carr also has state convictions for obtaining property by false pretenses and passing worthless checks.

He was convicted of simple assault in February and is on probation. He says he plans to appeal that misdemeanor.

“There are some good people, even if they've been to prison,” he said. “But they deserve a second chance, just like any other citizen.”

The District C candidate says education helped him overcome his past. His campaign bio includes business administration and advanced career degrees from Cumberland County College in New Jersey.

A school spokeswoman told WRAL News that Carr was enrolled but there's no record of any degree.

Carr’s profile on LinkedIn.com touts his experience as a law clerk at a federal correctional institute from 1996-2006, in which he supervised 21 employees. However, it does not mention that he was an inmate at the time.  He was released from prison on Jan. 22, 2009.

“I have a niche for the law,” he said. “I do have a lot of knowledge when it comes to the law.”

On the Facebook page for his campaign, Carr says  he has been a minister since the age of 12 and that he is senior pastor and bishop at Emmaus Puritan Apostolic Baptist Churches Inc. The organization is headquartered in a house on Poole Road in Raleigh.

Carr refers to himself as a “doctor,” citing an honorary doctorate from Amherst Theological Seminary in Madison Heights, Va. He says Amherst is non-accredited, but that it is a “highly reputable school” that is equal to the standards of other schools

“That doctorate holds just as much weight, in my view, as a doctorate from Duke University,” he said.

An Amherst Theological Seminary representative said the seminary is a “correspondence Christian education program that deals with prisons.” Director Oscar Blanchard said Carr completed a basic Bible class, but there's no record of any doctorate.

When asked if he feels comfortable calling himself a doctor, Carr said he is.

“Even without the doctorate, I’m sure you’re familiar with life-work of an individual,” he said.

Carr’s Facebook profile also lists an MBA from Duke University, but misspells the name of the Fuqua School of Business. It says he graduated from Fayetteville State University in 1996. WRAL has not been able to confirm those claims with either university.

Some of Carr's other online postings also raise questions.

On one website, he displays pictures of speakers seated in front of microphones and audience members filling a room, with some standing against the wall. A caption under the photos reads: “Southeast Raleigh’s Youth Summit 2010," a summit Carr claims to have organized.

Yet, when confronted, he admitted that he took the pictures from a British website.

Carr said he does not consider his claims to be deceptive. “The people who really matter already know (about my past),” he said. “Southeast Raleigh, they know about Lent Carr.”

He says his council candidacy is about change and second chances, and he hopes voters will “vote their conscience.”

Carr cites former Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry as a political role model. Barry was elected to a fourth term as mayor despite an arrest and conviction for crack cocaine use and possession in the 1990s. “He showed me to stand up in the midst of adversity and stand up for what you believe in,” Carr said.