LaRoque Silent on Federal Indictment
Updated On: Jul 18 2012 05:12:05 PM CDT
North Carolina Representative Stephen LaRoque (R), was indicted on eight counts of stealing money from a federal loan program Tuesday, allegedly using more than half a million dollars to buy expensive and bizarre items.
According to U.S. Attorney Thomas G. Walker, LaRoque filled his bank account with money from the East Carolina Development Company, a non-profit group that makes loans to rural companies.
The criminal conduct allegedly extended back to May 2001, uncovered by an investigation lead by the IRS, FBI, and State Bureau of Investigation.
LaRoque is accused of buying an unusual array of items, including a gold necklace from Caesar's Palace Resort in Las Vegas, ten jewel encrusted Faberge eggs, and an ice skating rink in Greenville.
The North Carolina representative declined to make an official statement Tuesday when a request for comment was made at his Kinston home.
In the 72 page indictment, investigators assert a clear pattern of LaRoque funneling money from the East Carolina Development Company to his personal business, LaRoque Management Group (LMG).
Once federal money was shifted to LMG, prosecutors say LaRoque wrote checks to cover $617,000 in personal expenses.
In 2009, the indictment alleges a $141,500 check was used for LaRoque's wife to buy a controlling interest in Bladez on Ice, a skating rink on Red Banks Road in Greenville. Months later, $20,000 was funneled to buy a 1997 Olympia Ice Resurfacer.
Investigators said money for federal loans was used to buy LaRoque two vehicles from Massey Toyota of Kinston - an Avalon in 2005 and a Tacoma in 2007.
The loan money came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for the purpose of expanding businesses in rural areas.
LaRoque served as executive director of East Carolina Development Company, and allegedly made preferential loans to the woman who would eventually become his wife. Prosecutors contend he also channeled thousands in federal dollars to the Snow Hill attorney who defended LaRoque in a defamation case.
Federal regulations prohibit loaning the money to businesses "in which directors have substantial interests."
Diamonds bought from the Crabtree Mall in Raleigh and a house for LaRoque's step daughter are also notable items listed in the indictment.
Federal grand jury subpoenas were served on September 8, 2011. If convicted on all counts, LaRoque could spend 80 years in prison. The state representative was first elected to office November 5, 2002. He lost his most recent primary battle in May.
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