What the prosecutors and defense lawyers say

November 24, 2010 

George E.B. Holding, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina:

"When federal authorities investigate corruption allegations involving state officials, it is important that we cooperate with state prosecutors and investigators, rather than compete with them. When there are corruption allegations, we investigate them thoroughly, analyze the current status of applicable federal law, and then apply the principles of federal prosecution to decide whether to propose an indictment to the grand jury.

"These principles include whether the potential federal charges are supported by enough admissible evidence to obtain and sustain a conviction, whether the accused person should be subjected to multiple prosecutions, and whether federal charges would promote cooperation with state prosecutors.

"After weighing all these factors and consulting closely with Special Prosecutor [Bill] Kenerly, we have decided to decline federal prosecution of former Governor Easley, and bring to a close the federal investigation of him."

"... It is no cause for celebration that a former governor of North Carolina has been convicted of a felony related to his service as governor, but it does signify that North Carolina is taking seriously the enforcement of its campaign finance laws. This ends a sad chapter in North Carolina history. But North Carolinians are strong and will overcome this tarnishing of our reputation. Whenever potential federal violations are implicated, we will continue to partner with our state counterparts to root out public corruption in our state."

William Kenerly, the special state prosecutor assigned to the case:

"I have considered this mandate to include not only possible violation of campaign finance laws, but also any related violation of state criminal law within the jurisdiction of the District Attorney of Wake County. My investigation has therefore included these issues examined by the Board of Elections and non-campaign issues.

"...The evidence is not sufficient to warrant state criminal prosecution on non-campaign issues, and I will not comment further on this aspect of my investigation.

"Critics of this plea agreement should understand that it is a resolution giving consideration to vague statutes and hotly contested evidence. As a result of this plea, the former governor is now a convicted felon, a result that I consider to serve the interests of justice in this case."

Joseph B. Cheshire V, Easley's attorney:

"There is a value in proper [campaign finance] reporting. We acknowledge that. There is a criminal violation if you don't properly report. We acknowledge that. We've accepted that.

"Was there corruption? No."

Staff writer Anne Blythe

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