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NC REPUBLICAN lawmaker charged with stealing from federal loan program

Published:

Raleigh, N.C. A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted state Rep. Stephen LaRoque on charges that he misappropriated federal funding from nonprofits that he runs.

LaRoque, R-Lenoir, is charged with four counts of converting U.S. Department of Agriculture loans to East Carolina Development Co. to his own use and four counts of laundering money by using federal funds to purchase an interest in a Greenville ice rink and a house that he then rented to one of his stepdaughters.

ECDC and another Kinston-based nonprofit LaRoque oversees, Piedmont Development Co., provide low-interest loans to small businesses in rural areas.

LaRoque couldn't be reached for comment, but Raleigh attorney Joe Cheshire released a statement contending that the lawmaker has done nothing wrong and was "disappointed" by the indictment.

"Rep. LaRoque is proud of what he has accomplished with his nonprofit corporations. The corporations’ work provided monies that led to new business and led to hundreds of jobs for North Carolinians who would otherwise have been unemployed," Cheshire said in the statement.

The 72-page indictment details years of alleged insider dealings, noting that LaRoque, his brother and his wife sat on the nonprofits' boards and that they routinely approved without comment loans LaRoque had already made. One of the loans was to a carpet business owned by the woman who would later become his wife at an interest rate about half that charged to other borrowers, according to the indictment.

LaRoque has paid himself close to $2 million since 1998 for running the nonprofits, along with another $133,000 in reimbursed expenses, according to the indictment.

He routed ECDC money through his management company to purchase vehicles, jewelry and other goods, the indictment alleges.

LaRoque, 48, has previously defended his work at the two agencies against allegations of wrongdoing.

In 2010, he filed a defamation lawsuit against his Democratic opponent, who questioned the nonprofit operations. The indictment alleges that he used federal loan funds to pay his legal fees in the suit.

He then fired back at left-leaning publication NC Policy Watch, which sorted through records of the two nonprofits and alleged conflicts of interest in several stories.

LaRoque served as co-chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee in the recent legislative session, but he lost his re-election bid in the May primary.

Reporter: Cullen Browder

Entry #208

Comments

1.
Comment by scorpio - July 19, 2012, 10:55 am
wow,one of the perfect republicans has fallen!
2.
Comment by louise black - July 19, 2012, 11:42 am
First of all no one is perfect but least of them are Republicans and Tea Party .These crooks are robbering the public and 99% blind with all their special breaks to their cronies .The Romneys act like their the Monarch and they can't stoop to tell the "help "anything although they want to be their leader of(99er).
3.
Comment by bobbya - July 19, 2012, 6:31 pm
The whole of the GOP is corrupt in all things.
Half of the Reagan Regime went to jail or should have went or at least have been charged with crimes against America etc. just for their Iran-Contra fiasco alone.
The same for the Bush-Cheney Regime where most of the executive branch should have been charged with criminality or treason.
Bush-Cheney should have been put on trial in The Hague for their responsibility in the Murders of many thousands of innocent,men,women,AND CHILDREN in Iraq in their invasion and occupation of a sovereign nation that did nothing to America all based on Lies when the real reason was to steal the Iraqi Oil for their Corporate Owners of Big Oil.
4.
Comment by scorpio - July 19, 2012, 8:33 pm
and romney will follow them to jail, if he just will show everyone,republicans too,his dam tazx returns for more then 2 years!

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