WNCT 9: Kinston mayor calls for Rep. Stephen LaRoque’s resignation

By: Madeleine Wright

KINSTON, N.C. — Another politician is now publicly calling for the resignation of Stephen LaRoque, the three-term representative indicted this week with eight counts of fraud and theft.

Kinston mayor B.J. Murphy joined the North Carolina Speaker of the House, Thom Tillis, in asking LaRoque to step down.

On Tuesday a grand jury indicted LaRoque, accusing him of taking $300,000 from his non-profit to enrich himself and his family. It also says LaRoque paid himself nearly $2 million in salaries and reimbursed himself for more than $100,000 worth of expenses. He allegedly used the money to buy vehicles, jewelry, and other goods.

LaRoque has not been convicted at this point, but when the theft allegations surfaced, Murphy and Tillis responded quickly, saying it’s best for LaRoque to resign.

In a statement, Murphy said: “As a constituent of the 10th House district and the Chief Elected Official of the City of Kinston, I echo the statement from the North Carolina Speaker of the House in advising Representative LaRoque to consider stepping down. I believe in due process and innocence until proven guilty, however it appears to be in the best interest of the 10th House district to be removed from the shadow of this indictment.”

Tillis said he even talked with LaRoque about stepping down.

“He and I have had some discussion and I have suggested that it is really in his best interest,” Tillis told the Associated Press. “I think it would be a wise decision.”

9 On Your Side went to Stephen LaRoque’s home office in Kinston for comment, but no one answered the door. On the phone, LaRoque referred all questions to his attorney, Joe Cheshire, who fired back against the charges.

“Representative LaRoque has fully cooperated with the Government in its investigation and is very disappointed in the indictment,” wrote Cheshire in a statement. “He believes that when this matter is fully aired, it will be shown that he did not violate the laws of the United States.”

LaRoque is due in court August 6. He faces a maximum of 80 years in prison if convicted on all counts.