Former state Rep. Stephen LaRoque’s hearing to ask a federal judge to set aside his convictions of defrauding two federally-funded economic development non-profits has been delayed.
LaRoque had been scheduled to appear in court this coming Thursday, but U.S. Senior District Judge Malcolm Howard granted an extension Wednesday at the request of both LaRoque’s attorney and prosecutors. A juror in LaRoque’s June trial admitted doing independent Internet research on tax law during the course of jury deliberations, and LaRoque is seeking a new trial on grounds of jury misconduct.
LaRoque was originally scheduled to be sentenced in September on 10 of the counts he was convicted of, but that sentencing has been delayed while the Howard considers whether there are grounds for a new trial.
The new hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Dec. 12 at the federal courthouse in Greenville.
LaRoque, a former state representative from Kinston, accused of using federal funds from two economic development non-profits to fund his personal lifestyle, including purchases of cars, replica Faberge eggs, a Greenville ice skating rink and jewelry for his wife. He has maintained that the money was owed to him as part of a generous compensation package. He was the subject of a 2011 N.C. Policy Watch investigation that found LaRoque received generous salaries, of up to $195,000 a year, from the small non-profits run by a board of directors consisting of his wife and brother. The economic development groups also approved loans to close associates of his, including his lawyer and two Republican legislative colleagues.