GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Former state House member Stephen LaRoque was in federal court in Greenville Tuesday morning for a hearing regarding the remaining debt on his restitution.
In 2015, LaRoque, a legislator out of Kinston, pleaded guilty to directing thousands of federal tax dollars from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to friends and family and was ordered to pay $300,000 in restitution.
So far, LaRoque has paid back $177,480 of that $300,000.
However, in court Tuesday, LaRoque’s defense attorneys argued the government owes him money.
They said the government, which sold three of LaRoque’s properties, undersold them and that LaRoque is owed the difference.
Laroque had 120 days to sell them after his sentencing to pay for his restitution, but he failed to do so, and the state assigned Roger’s Realty to sell them.
His attorneys argued Roger’s Realty did a poor job, causing LaRoque to only get $121,000 instead of $219,000. They said the difference, $98,000, should count toward LaRoque’s restitution.
The prosecution said the properties were in terrible shape and refuted the idea LaRoque is owed any extra money.
LaRoque’s attorneys also claimed he is owed upwards of $67,000 for work he did for the East Carolina Development Corporation, the non-profit he led.
Prosecutors argued the ECDC has no money to give LaRoque because the non-profit owes the USDA $800,000 in faulty loans.
The judge said he wanted to review cases and information presented in the court before making a decision. He will issue an appropriate order within two weeks.