Former state Rep. Stephen LaRoque has been convicted on 12 counts of federal charges related to accusations that he enriched himself with U.S. Department of Agriculture money that he was supposed to loan to struggling rural business owners.
The verdict came Friday morning in a federal courtroom in Greenville. Sentencing is set for Sept. 10.
The trial began in mid May and involved testimony about complex financial transactions that the government contended amounted to theft and money laundering.
LaRoque, who was represented by Raleigh attorneys Joseph Cheshire V and Elliot Abrams, argued that prosecutors were trying to describe "legitimate transactions" as theft.
Prosecutors contended LaRoque’s defense tried to portray the alleged crimes as “mere ethical lapses” that didn’t constitute crimes. But the prosecutors argued the case was about the theft of $300,000 in federal funds, and LaRoque’s attempts to conceal the theft and avoid taxes through “sham loans.”
The federal jury began their deliberations on Wednesday and came back with their verdict shortly before noon.
-- Anne Blythe