FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday - March 1, 2004
RALEIGH - Frank D. Whitney, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, announced today the filing of two criminal informations charging NORMAN Y. CHAMBLISS, III, and WELDON B. DENNY with felonies relating to the investigation of the Meg Scott Phipps Campaign 2000 for Commissioner of Agriculture.
CHAMBLISS' information charges him with obstruction of justice in connection with the federal grand jury investigation in 2002 and 2003. The information alleges that CHAMBLISS, 52, of Rocky Mount, N. C., colluded with another witness in order to impede the Government's investigation and provided false statements to law enforcement assisting the Grand Jury investigation. Upon conviction, he could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000.00, and a supervised release term of three years.
DENNY's information charges him with making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on January 22, 2003. Specifically, DENNY, 78, of Raleigh, N. C., falsely informed the FBI that he was unaware of illegal cash payments made by James H. Drew III to Meg Scott Phipps, when, in truth and fact, DENNY knew of three illegal cash payments totaling $20,000.00. Upon conviction, he could receive a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000.00, and a supervised release term of three years.
The charges are the product of an investigation conducted jointly by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, in conjunction with the United States Attorney's Office and the Office of Wake County District Attorney C. Colon Willoughby. The Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division of the U. S. Department of Justice also played a role in the investigation.
An arraignment is scheduled in each case before United States District Judge Malcolm J. Howard in Greenville, N. C., on April 5, 2004.
A criminal information is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. In felony cases, a defendant may not be convicted under a criminal information unless the defendant waives indictment. The defendants are entitled to a fair trail in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The grand jury investigation will continue.