Testimony continued in day five of the Stephen LaRoque trial in federal court in Greenville.
The former state representative is charged with 12 counts of corruption.
Federal prosecutors believe he used money meant for rural business to pay for luxury items. They believe he was a man who was living large on somebody else’s dime.
Since the late 1990’s, LaRoque worked for East Carolina Development Company. The non-profit group was supposed to give loans to small businesses. Instead, federal prosecutors believe he funneled cash into his own pocket and spent it on jewelry for his wife and a zamboni for an ice rink in Greenville.
On Friday, a witness testified about LaRoque’s spending in Las Vegas. He purchased two Faberge eggs for his wife in 2008. The eggs cost nearly $10,000.
Ten months later, prosecutors said the couple visited a store outside Washington, D.C. and bought nine Faberge eggs one day. Then, LaRoque purchased another Faberge egg the following day. The cost for that shopping trip was more than 16,000.
In 2009, federal prosecutors said LaRoque’s wife purchased "Bladez on Ice" on Red Banks Road for $525,000. When equipment failed, authorities said LaRoque bought a zamboni to dish out the ice and then keep it smooth.
Testimony will continue after Memorial Day.
Federal prosecutors started the day bringing United States Department of Agriculture’s business programs specialist, Lisa Talley, back to the stand.
Talley handles the IRP (Intermediary Relending Program) loans from the USDA to East Carolina Development Company, otherwise known as ECDC. It’s the non-profit organization prosecutors believe former State House representative Stephen LaRoque pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars from.
Talley testified on the witness stand one of her jobs is to make sure the annual audit's from the company are up to date. She stated on Wednesday there was an issue with several audits being late from ECDC and there was some missing information about a $150,000 loan listed in the "other" category.
According to Talley, Mr. LaRoque never disclosed to her that the money was actually being used for his own company, called "LaRoque Management Company" or "LMG" for short.
She assumed it was an organizational cost and so she didn't question it.
The defense countered that because the USDA didn't raise eyebrows over the $150,000, LaRoque assumed he was playing by the rules.
Later in the day, a former board of directors’ member for ECDC testified that he voted to increase LaRoque’s salary from $18,000 per year to $48,000 in 1999 because he cited "the company had increased."
However, he testified that he didn't know LaRoque had discussed having a yearly salary increase of 3% of the company's total assets with another member of the board.
LaRoque’s salary increased to more than $150,000 by 2011.
The board member said he wouldn't have agreed to that because ECDC is a non-profit and that would be too much money for one person to receive as their salary.
Court adjourned around 4 p.m. and is expected to resume at 9 a.m. on Thursday.
Stay tuned to NewsChannel 12 as we continue to follow this story.
Witnesses were called to the stand in day two of the trial of a former North Carolina representative indicted on twelve counts of alleged corruption.
Former district 10 State Representative Stephen LaRoque is charged with funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars meant for rural business development, into his own pocket.
He was indicted by the grand jury and resigned in July 2012.