The Wake County school system stands to get less than half of the $500,000 it was supposed to receive from disgraced former House Speaker Jim Black for turning over land in Matthews to pay the fine for his state corruption conviction.
Black was allowed in 2009 to turn over 9.5 acres near Charlotte to the school system to settle half of the $1 million fine he was assessed in his state corruption case. On Tuesday, the school board will vote on selling the land to the Town of Matthews for $295,427.
If approved, the school system would get $241,127 with the State Board of Elections receiving $54,300.
Click here to view the documentation for the sale.
Black, a Mecklenburg Democrat who was once one of the most powerful politicians in North Carolina, was convicted in 2007 on federal and state charges for accepting thousands of dollars in illegal payments, including instances of cash being handed over in men's bathrooms.
Black was released from federal prison in 2010. He was allowed to serve his state sentence concurrently.
As part of the sentence on state charges, Black agreed to pay a $1 million fine that cut his state sentence by two years. The money from fines goes to school systems. Wake got the money because the prosecution was handled here in Raleigh.
Wake Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens allowed Black to pay half of the $1 million fine by transferring land to the school system instead of coming up with the cash.
An appraisal of the undeveloped land in Mecklenburg County was done by Black’s family and determined the value of the site on Rice Road was $613,000.
School officials say a recent appraisal shows the property is worth $341,000.
Back in 2009, then school board member Ron Margiotta criticized the deal. This prompted Stephens to complain about Margiotta’s comments and warn he might not be as willing to turn over fine money to the school system in the future.
The school board wound up writing a letter to Stephens saying they respect his actions.
Rick Henderson, managing editor of The Carolina Journal, which first reported on the land deal in 2009, writes in a blog post Friday for the conservative John Locke Foundation that Ron Margiotta was right.
In a comment to that post, Terry Stoops, director of education studies for the Locke Foundation, says Judge Donald Stephens owes Margiotta an apology for calling him "idiotic" for having criticized the deal in 2009.