Former NC state Rep. LaRoque enters prison today

laroqueKINSTON – Former state Rep. Stephen LaRoque reports to federal prison in Butner by noon today.

LaRoque, 51, a former high-ranking Republican in the state legislature, was sentenced to two years in federal prison in July. LaRoque pled guilty to the theft of $300,000 from a federally-funded non-profit.

LaRoque will spend two years in prison. LaRoque was also ordered to pay back $300,000 in restitution to East Carolina Development Company, the non-profit he founded, as well as $5,100 in fines. He will be on parole for two years after he leaves prison.

LaRoque approved loans to close associates and friends, including his lawyer Bert Diener and two fellow Republican lawmakers, state Rep. Mark Hilton and state Sen. Debbie Clary. Both have since left the legislature, opting not to seek reelection. Former state Sen. Debbie Clary had written a letter of support for leniency in the case.

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LaRoque issued a five-page statement to news organizations Sunday without going through an attorney because he no longer employs the firm that oversaw his case.

“This whole prosecution has been a witch hunt carried on by my political opponents,” the Republican wrote in a five-page statement. “As a political activist and also as a member of the NC House of Representatives, I had a reputation of being outspoken and an advocate for those who felt like they didn’t have a voice.”

LaRoque stated he had been targeted as part of a “witchhunt” in retaliation for his political views and his calling Rev. William Barber of the state NAACP a racist.