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Hearing on LaRoque's new trial set for October

Published On: Aug 02 2013 03:54:37 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 23 2013 03:28:08 PM CDT
GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY -

A hearing to discuss the new trial for former State Rep. Stephen LaRoque has been scheduled for October. LaRoque was convicted on federal charges related to using federal money for personal gains and purchases.

According to court documents, the hearing is set to take place on Oct. 10 in Greenville.

In June, a federal jury convicted LaRoque on 12 federal charges, including money laundering, theft, giving false information to the federal government, and filing false tax returns.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, LaRoque scammed taxpayers to finance a lavish lifestyle, including $2.1 million in salary payments and $300,000 in interest-free personal loans used to buy luxury items, such as a Zamboni, an ice skating rink, and Faberge eggs.

Investigators said LaRoque funneled money from his non-profit group, East Carolina Development Company, into his own pocket. The company was supposed to give loans to small businesses.

But on Aug. 1, a federal judge ruled that there was misconduct by a juror. According to court documents, the juror did online research on filing taxes, which was relevant to two counts against LaRoque of making and subscribing a false tax return.

The judge said LaRoque will get a new trial on those two counts.

A sentencing date has not been set for LaRoque on the remaining ten convictions.

LaRoque, a Republican, represented Lenoir, Wayne and Greene counties in the North Carolina General Assembly. He resigned after he was indicted in July 2012.

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Former state Representative Stephen LaRoque, who was convicted on 12 federal charges, will get a new trial.

A federal jury in Greenville convicted LaRoque in June of charges including money laundering, theft, giving false information to the federal government and filing false tax returns.

But Thursday, a federal judge ruled there was misconduct by a juror. The judge says that LaRoque will get a new trial on two of the 12 counts of which he was convicted.
     
According to court documents, a juror did online research on filing taxes, and that was relevant to two counts against LaRoque of making and subscribing a false tax return.

The judge stated, "The juror testified that although he remembered the judge's instruction not to do any research on the internet, he thought that the judge was referring to research involving the specific person in the case, and he felt what he researched was general knowledge... (t)he court finds there was juror misconduct in that juror number three conducted research on the internet in contravention of the instructions of the court."

A spokesperson for U.S. Attorney Thomas Walker declined comment, except to point out that the remaining ten convictions against LaRoque remain intact.  A message left for LaRoque's attorney, Joe Cheshire V, was not immediately returned.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, LaRoque scammed taxpayers to finance a lavish lifestyle, including $2.1 million in salary payments and $300,000 in interest-free personal loans used to buy luxury items, such as a Zamboni, an ice skating rink, and Faberge eggs.

Investigators said LaRoque funneled money from his non-profit group, East Carolina Development Company, into his own pocket. The company was supposed to give loans to small businesses.

A sentencing date is not currently scheduled for LaRoque on the remaining ten convictions.  Walker's spokesperson was not sure if that sentencing would come before or after the new trial.

LaRoque, a Republican, represented Lenoir, Wayne and Greene counties in the North Carolina General Assembly. He resigned after he was indicted in July 2012.