Six witnesses testified on Tuesday. The sixth witness, a business programs specialist for the United States Department of Agriculture, will continue her testimony on Wednesday.
NewsChannel 12 caught up with LaRoque's attorney, Joe Cheshire, at the end of the day.
“We’re feeling really good about our case. We think the issues are coming out in an understandable way. Ah, and that Mr. LaRoque's case his positions are just exploding in the courtroom,” he said.
The main points discussed in court were the large salary increases LaRoque received over a seven year period from the non-profit organization, East Carolina Development Company. His salary increased from $18,000 per year to more than $130,000.
However, the former president of the board of the directors for ECDC stated Tuesday on the witness stand he talked with LaRoque in the late 1990’s regarding a salary increase. The defense argued that the pair had a “verbal contract,” and LaRoque was to receive 3% of the total assets of the company as his salary. Plus, independent auditors and the USDA authorized the actions of the board, so LaRoque assumed they were following the rules and he earned the salary increase fair and square.
There were also questions concerning the potential conflict having LaRoque, his wife and brother as part of the board of directors for ECDC.
A lot of technical terms were also thrown at the jury, including the type of loans ECDC was applying for from the USDA.
We asked Cheshire how he plans to break down all the numbers for the jurors.
“That’s what we will keep trying to do. And that's make it simple, direct and understandable because the more understandable, the more we feel confident about our case,” Cheshire said.
The prosecutor, Dennis Duffy in this case told us he could not comment on an ongoing trial.
There are expected to be eighty witnesses called the stand. The judge anticipates the trial to last two weeks.
“Well, you know we're early into a trial that is supposed to be fairly long so one never knows what's going to happen. We'll just keep doing what we do just as much as we can,” Cheshire said.
Stay tuned to NewsChannel 12 as we will continue to be in the courtroom on Wednesday.
Opening statements began Monday afternoon in the trial of of former State Representative Stephen LaRoque. The Kinston Republican is accused of using federal money for personal gains and purchases.
According to officials, the trial at the Federal Courthouse in Greenville is expected to last for two weeks.
Federal prosecutors allege that LaRoque scammed taxpayers to finance a lavish lifestyle that included $2.1 million in salary payments. LaRoque also allegedly used $300,000 in interest-free personal loans used to buy a house, new cars, an ice-skating rink, and a collection of jewel-encrusted Fabergé eggs. The money was from federal funds loaned to LaRoque's company to benefit rural communities, according to investigators.
LaRoque was indicted last July. He is facing a dozen federal theft and money laundering charges. But his lawyers said he's not guilty because he was legally entitled to the money.
LaRoque was elected to three terms in the N.C. House and served as the powerful co-chairman of the House Rules Committee. He represented Lenoir, Greene and Wayne Counties, but resigned from the General Assembly on August 1, shortly after his indictment.
He faces a maximum sentence of 96 years in federal prison if convicted.