Under the Dome

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.

A July indictment leveled four charges of theft and four charges of money laundering against the three-term Kinston legislator for diverting money from a company he controlled that made federal loans to struggling businesses in rural areas.

In new indictment filed Dec. 20, federal investigators detailed a series of financial transactions in which federal loan money was transferred through various accounts to pay for thousands of dollars of Faberge eggs and other jewelry for his wife’s birthday and anniversary presents, the purchase of an ice rink in Greenville for his wife – along with a new ice resurfacing machine – and buying a home to rent to a stepdaughter.

A call to LaRoque’s lawyer, Joseph Cheshire of Raleigh, was not immediately returned Wednesday but Cheshire told the Associated Press that the additional charges were expected. He has said LaRoque is innocent. A trial won’t begin until early 2013 at the earliest.

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