Uncategorized

LaRoque’s brother testifies against former lawmaker

Stephen LaRoque’s brother took the stand Tuesday in a federal criminal trial in Greenville, where the former lawmaker is facing a dozen charges accusing him of stealing $300,000 from his federally-funded non-profits.

LaRoque’s brother Walter LaRoque, a real estate agent, served on the board of directors for the two economic development groups founded by Stephen LaRoque, a Kinston Republican who stepped down from his seat at the state legislature after his July indictment.

East Carolina Development Company and Piedmont Development Company received $8 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a rural lending program that was supposed to offer loans to small businesses in struggling areas. But federal prosecutors believe LaRoque, over the years, used the non-profits bank accounts to buy lavish jewelry presents for his wife and other luxuries by taking 3 percent of the groups’ entire assets, including large stockpiles of cash.

The trial is being held in Greenville, and is expected to last through the week, and possibly into next week.

LaRoque has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and his attorney Joe Cheshire has argued that the USDA rules were confusing and contradictory, and that the money LaRoque is accused of stealing are funds owed to LaRoque.

On the stand Tuesday, Walter LaRoque said he approved a 2009 contract for his brother without realizing how much compensation came along with it, according to this article from the Kinston Free-Press.

Prosecutors and defense counsel asked him numerous times what he knew of the contract in 2009 and what he knew came before it. Walter LaRoque answered all he knew was that Stephen LaRoque told him it was a reauthorization of a contract from 1999.

Walter LaRoque also said he never saw a contract before 2009, and didn’t know the specifics of the 2009 contract until prosecutors showed him an unsigned document, alleged to be the 2009 contract, in 2012.

“I did not know the full contents — that’s right,” Walter LaRoque said.

The Kinston Free-Press has been providing daily coverage on the court case, along with WNCT in Greenville.

For more background on the case, check out N.C. Policy Watch’s story about the trial here or our August 2011 investigation into LaRoque’s non-profits, which prompted the federal investigation.

Below is WNCT’s report about yesterday’s court proceedings:

WNCT | 9 On Your Side Greenville NC WNCT | 9 On Your Side Greenville NC

Check Also

UNC Board of Governors face protest, chooses new board chair and interim president

It was a busy day at the final ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

A fix for North Carolina’s class size crisis in March? A GOP senator from Wake County tells his cons [...]

Back in September, the N.C. Historical Commission put off a decision on removing three Confederate m [...]

449,235 - Total undergrad enrollment in North Carolina 19,767 - Total for-profit undergrad enrollmen [...]

There’s a new rumor afoot about judicial reform that lawmakers may try to pass a judicial appointmen [...]

Mounting student debt is a nagging problem for most families these days. As the cost of higher educa [...]

Latest racist attacks on immigrants could be an important tipping point As bleak as our national pol [...]

Grand constitutional questions in this country aren’t settled until the Supreme Court has its say, e [...]

The post Gerrymander struck down appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

Featured | Special Projects

NC Budget 2017
The maze of the NC Budget is complex. Follow the stories to follow the money.
Read more


NC Redistricting 2017
New map, new districts, new lawmakers. Here’s what you need to know about gerrymandering in NC.
Read more