#ncga: Say WHAT? A federal investigation?

THAT is what they are saying, friends: Bart_Simpson2a-198x300

Wake County prosecutors say a date for state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell’s criminal trial has been removed from the court calendar pending a separate federal investigation.[…]

Hmmm.  Hartsell gets charged for paying for all kinds of wacky stuff with campaign funds.  We wondered aloud WHY Hartsell got charged, but this guy, and this one, and this one and this one DID NOT.  (Maybe we now know why.)

I’ve been hearing that the FBI has had a steady presence at the legislative building over the last six months to a year.  Super-sleuth Nick Ochsner broke a story about a possible federal probe of key folks on Jones Street.  MORE: 

Hartsell, a Concord Republican and the Senate’s longest-serving member, is scheduled to return to the General Assembly on Monday, less than two months after a Wake County grand jury charged him with filing false campaign finance reports.

The 69-year-old Hartsell began that day, June 28, chairing a legislative committee hearing. At midday he turned himself in to the Wake County magistrate’s office. By late afternoon, Hartsell stood on the Senate floor choking up during a speech honoring his wife. Senators then filled the chamber with applause as members from both parties offered public support.

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman now says Hartsell’s case has been temporarily removed from the Wake County Superior Court calendar.

“He remains charged with three felony counts of claiming false campaign reports,” she said, “but we are in a holding pattern pending the conclusion of a federal investigation.”

According to Freeman, Hartsell’s case was removed last month after discussions with Hartsell’s attorney, Wade Smith of Raleigh.

FBI agents leave the office of Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority headquarters Wednesday, October 15, 2008. Law enforcement agents raided the home and office of George Phillips, executive director of CMHA. (Gus Chan / The Plain Dealer)

“It is difficult for us to move forward until I know what direction the federal prosecutors will take — if any,” Freeman said.

Smith said he is currently discussing the case with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of North Carolina.



That sound you hear in Raleigh is a stampede down to the board of elections to RE-vise campaign finance reports.