Former state Rep. Stephen LaRoque told jurors that he made mistakes running two economic-development non-profits, but did not intentionally steal from the federally-funded charities.
“I made a lot of mistakes,” LaRoque told jurors. “I admit that.”
LaRoque, a Kinston Republican who served as a member of N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis’ leadership team until his 2012 indictment, is facing 12 criminal counts in a federal trial being held at the federal courthouse in Greenville. The federal probe stemmed from an August 2011 N.C. Policy Watch investigation that found LaRoque received generous salaries from the non-profit’s board of directors consisting of his immediate relatives.
Jurors have listened to more than two weeks of evidence about complex and complicated financial transactions and will begin deliberations on LaRoque’s guilt or innocence tomorrow.
He’s accused of using the bank accounts of the Kinston-based non-profits, East Carolina Development Company and Piedmont Development Company, to fund a lavish lifestyle including new cars, a Greenville ice-skating rink, a house, jewelry and replica Faberge eggs. LaRoque says he is innocent of any wrongdoing and any money in question was owed to him through contracts approved by his board of directors (who consisted for many years of himself, his wife and brother).
He faces more than 90 years in prison, if the jury were to convict him on all 12 charges.
On the stand Tuesday, LaRoque said he didn’t report all of his generous terms of his salary to auditors, accountants and the IRS but instead kept that money in East Carolina Development Company’s accounts with the assumption that he could withdraw it whenever he wanted.