RALEIGH NC Nov 29 2011 — Three associates of Governor Beverly Perdue were indicted Monday on felony charges related to her election campaign.
Trawick Hamilton “Buzzy” Stubbs and Juleigh Lee Sitton face obstruction of justice and filing false reports charges. Peter Anthony Reichard faces a single count of filing a false report.
The announcement follows an investigation by the Wake County district attorney’s office that has lasted more than a year.
Reichard was Perdue’s campaign finance director. Sitton was director of the Governor’s Western Office until she resigned in August. Stubbs is a New Bern attorney.
The indictments allege that the trio knowingly caused the Bev Perdue Committee to file finance reports that were false in that they did not list all the contributions, loans, and expenditures that they should have.
In August 2010, the North Carolina Board of Elections fined the Perdue campaign $30,000 for “flight irregularities.” The elections board said Perdue made dozens of flights aboard campaign donors’ planes during the 2004 and 2008 elections that weren’t disclosed in campaign-finance reports until 2009.
Stubbs is accused of contributing or paying expenses totaling more than $28,000 through his law firm by paying for flights for the benefit of the Bev Perdue Committee until Nov. 1, 2008, his indictment said. Stubbs prepared documents in October 2008 that purported the flights had been contributed to the state Democratic Party when they actually had gone for the committee, documents said.
In a statement Monday, Stubbs said he was “saddened” by news of the indictments and that he has cooperated fully with investigators. He said it was never his intent to violate any law and he intends to plead not guilty.
“I never asked for any favors nor have I received any personal benefit from my support and help advancing Beverly Perdue’s campaign for Governor,” he said.
The indictments accuse Sitton and Reichard of hiding that Sitton was being paid an additional $32,000 – $2,000 a month for 16 months – to work full-time for Perdue’s campaign through outside money that was funneled through a merchant banking firm operated by Reichard called Tryon Capital Partners. Reichard solicited and accepted money from Morganton business owner Charles M. Fulenwider, according to the indictment. Fulenwider has not been charged.
Reichard attorney Hart Miles said his client is prepared to go to trial but would like to have the case resolve without a long trial. “I urge everyone to withhold judgment until the case is concluded and the facts are known,” Miles said.
ABC11 contacted the Governor’s office for comment on the indictments. In a written statement, the Governor said:
“At the District Attorney’s request & I will not comment on the specific charges or any aspect of the investigation. I will, however, reiterate what I made clear at the beginning of the investigation, and what the investigation has confirmed: as a citizen, a candidate for public office, and an elected official, I have strived to follow the rules and laws. I am proud of my record, and I remain sharply focused on strengthening our schools, creating jobs and moving North Carolina forward.”
Monday’s indictments are not the only charges to come from Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby’s investigation. In February, a Wake County grand jury indicted Robert Caldwell of Morganton on a felony obstruction charge. Prosecutors allege he paid for a Perdue campaign flight and then solicited a check from another man to make it look like a legitimate contribution.
Perdue’s critics were quick to pounce on Monday’s news. In a statement, North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes said the indictments were a reminder of similar campaign finance problems for Perdue’s predecessor Democratic Governor Mike Easley.
“The people of North Carolina deserve better. No more corruption, no more scandals, just leadership. Next November, the people of North Carolina will send that message when they vote to replace Governor Perdue and her associates,” said Hayes.