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LaRoque trial postponed again

Former state Rep. Stephen LaRoque's trial on federal fraud charges has been postponed from Feb. 12 to May 14. The postponement -- the second time the trial has been delayed -- is because new charges were filed against the Kinston Republican last month.

Federal Judge Malcolm Howard granted the request from the prosecution and defense, citing the complex nature of the case.

LaRoque, who resigned from the General Assembly after he was indicted in July, faces 10 counts, including fraud and tax offense allegations.

He is accused of enriching himself with business-stimulus money from a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan program, through non-profit entities he set up to make the loans.

Former GOP lawmaker faces new charges in alleged money-laundering scheme

Federal prosecutors indicted a powerful former Republican state lawmaker on four new counts, charging him with filing false tax returns and trying to hide an alleged scheme to launder federal loan money to enrich himself and close associates.

The new charges – which raise the total number to 12 – accuse former Rules Committee Chairman Stephen LaRoque of submitting false 2009 and 2010 tax returns, concealing actions to divert money for personal use and making false statements to the federal government.

How LaRoque's finances ended up with a federal grand jury

Federal investigators say state Rep. Stephen LaRoque, a Kinston Republican, paid himself more than $2 million over the past 15 years through a complex scheme using federal loans meant to help rural businesses. How the feds found out about it is a story in itself.

Federal grand jury indicts state Rep. LaRoque on eight counts

State Rep. Stephen LaRoque was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Raleigh accusing him of eight counts of theft and illegal financial transactions. The charges stem from LaRoque's handling of nonprofit entities he owned that loaned federal money to business owners who had trouble finding loans elsewhere.

LaRoque, 48, a Republican from Kinston, was chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee this past session. He was defeated in a primary election in May.

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation. The probe began after a series of articles published by the government watchdog group N.C. Policy Watch questioned his management of the nonprofits.

John Edwards case schedule for 2 p.m. hearing

The federal judge overseeing the John Edwards case has scheduled a status conference with the lawyers for this afternoon in a Greensboro courtroom.

Catherine Eagles set the 2 p.m. hearing in the federal courthouse after a flurry of court filings from Edwards' attorneys and prosecutors that were sealed from public viewing.

Shortly before Christmas, Edwards' defense team asked for a delay in his trial, which is set to begin with jury selection Jan. 30. In seeking the delay, the attorneys cited an undisclosed medical condition afflicting the former U.S. presidential candidate that was hampering his abilities to prepare for trial.

The lawyers also cited the sheer volume of documents and other information gathered by prosecutors in the case as another reason to seek the delay. Check back later today for updates.

Perdue finance director turns himself in

Peter Anthony Reichard, who served as Gov. Bev. Perdue's campaign finance director, turned himself in today at the Wake County Magistrate's Office on charges of obstructing justice.

Reichard, a 54-year-old Greensboro businessman, was released from custody on a $50,000 unsecured bond after his attorney talked with Wake County District Court Judge Ned Mangum, a magistrate said this afternoon.

Reichard was one of three people indicated by a Wake County jury yesterday on charges that a top aide to Perdue's 2008 campaign schemed to pay a staff member $32,000 for work that was kept off the books.

The alleged ploy is in violation of state election laws.

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