- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Former North Carolina lawmaker Stephen LaRoque was sentenced to two years in federal prison Wednesday after admitting he stole taxpayer money from the nonprofit he ran tasked with helping small businesses.

U.S. District Court Judge Malcolm Howard told former LaRoque to start serving his prison term in 30 days. The Kinston Republican also must pay $300,000 in restitution to the U.S. Agriculture Department.

LaRoque pleaded guilty in January to one count of stealing $150,000 from the federally funded rural development program he founded, East Carolina Development Co. LaRoque was convicted of a dozen criminal counts in June 2013, but his plea agreement included dismissing the other 11 counts.

Federal prosecutors said LaRoque took $300,000 for his personal benefit from the nonprofit created to provide loans to small rural businesses. The nonprofit made four transfers described as loans to LAROQUE’s company, LaRoque Management Group, prosecutors said. Some of the money went toward investments in a Greenville ice skating rink and buying rental property in Kinston.

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