Former N.C. House Speaker Jim Black has paid a $1 million fine days before a court-ordered deadline, his lawyers announced Thursday.
The Matthews Democrat is in federal prison in Pennsylvania after being convicted of accepting illegal payments from campaign contributors, mostly in cash handed over in men's bathrooms.
In a release, attorney Allen Powell said Black paid the fine to the school system in Wake County, where he was convicted, reports Jim Morrill and David Ingram.
"I always intended to leave a portion of my estate to help secure the enhancement of North Carolina's public educational system," Black said in a statement. "And while this payment comes a bit premature, I gladly give it knowing that North Carolina's children will be the beneficiaries."
The fine was originally due last year. But his attorneys argued that Black was unable to sell real estate at a fair market value. A Superior Court judge then set a July 1 deadline, with one condition: Black had to put up property as a guarantee.
He chose his former optometry uptown office, valued for tax purposes at $1.2 million. The judge wrote that the property could be sold at foreclosure if needed.
It's unclear where Black got the million dollars. Mecklenburg property records indicated he still owns the uptown property. Powell could not be reached late Thursday.
"The only legacy that Jim Black will leave the state of North Carolina is one of political corruption and personal shame," said Joe Sinsheimer, a former Democratic campaign consultant who has criticized Black.
Black is due for release in 2012.