Former North Carolina House of Representatives Member Sentenced for Theft from a Non-Profit
GREENVILLE, NC—United States Attorney Thomas G. Walker announced today that, STEPHEN A. LAROQUE, 51, of Kinston, North Carolina, was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment followed by two years of supervised release. The sentence relates to his theft and embezzlement of hundreds of thousands of dollars from a non-profit of which he served as the Executive Director. Additionally, LAROQUE was ordered to pay $300,000 in criminal restitution to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and was fined $5,000.
On January 26, 2015, LAROQUE pled guilty to one count of theft, embezzlement, and misapplication of $150,000 in USDA funds that had been loaned to East Carolina Development Company (“ECDC”), a nonprofit organization based in Kinston, North Carolina. LAROQUE served as Executive Director of ECDC, which was created to provide loans to small rural businesses using federal funds. LAROQUE used his fiduciary position as head of the non-profit to steal and embezzle the federal funds. As part of his plea, LAROQUE agreed to pay back $300,000 in criminal proceeds to the USDA.
According to the Indictment in this case, LAROQUE accomplished his $300,000 theft through four disbursements made by ECDC under the guise of loans to LAROQUE’s wholly-owned company, LaRoque Management Group (LMG). A review of bank records established that such funds were funneled through LMG and then used for LAROQUE’S personal benefit, including his investment in an ice skating rink in Greenville and the purchase of rental property in Kinston.
On June 7, 2013, after a three-week trail, a jury found LAROQUE guilty on each of the twelve counts. Later, the court granted a new trial based on an issue regarding a juror’s Internet research during deliberations. The guilty plea came less than a week prior to the second trial.
Investigation of this case was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation, the United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General-Investigations, Raleigh Office, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys, Dennis M. Duffy and Adam F. Hulbig prosecuted the case.