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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of North Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Former State Senator Sentenced to Eight Months for Mail and Tax Fraud

Winston-Salem, N.C. – A former North Carolina state senator was sentenced today to eight months in prison on federal fraud and tax charges, announced Acting United States Attorney Sandra J. Hairston.

Fletcher Lee Hartsell, Jr., who represented parts of Cabarrus and Union Counties as a State Senator from 1991 until 2016, previously pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and two counts of filing false tax returns before United States District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder. Hartsell admitted that he engaged in a scheme to defraud and to obtain money through false pretenses by soliciting funds through the mail for the Hartsell for NC State Senator Committee, using those funds for personal goods and services not authorized under state campaign finance laws, and then misrepresenting such expenditures on filed campaign disclosure reports. Hartsell further admitted that he made knowing and willful false statements in federal income tax returns filed both in his personal capacity and on behalf of a corporation he co-managed.

Hartsell agreed to pay full restitution to the Internal Revenue Service in the amount of $63,516 and to forfeit $184,059.88 in proceeds derived from his criminal conduct.

“Transparency, honesty, and integrity on the part of elected officials allows citizens to make informed decisions about their campaign contributions and at the ballot box. This sentence should serve as a reminder that those occupying positions of public trust will be held accountable under the same criminal laws as their constituents,” said Acting United States Attorney Hairston.

“Mr. Hartsell has learned first-hand what happens when you abuse the power granted to you as an elected official.  He must pay back the American people; money that he used for his own expenses and prison time for degrading our democratic process,” said John Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) in North Carolina.

“Today’s sentence sends a clear message that the laws of the land apply to everyone, regardless of their position,” said Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations (“IRS-CI”) Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Holloman, III.  “If you commit a crime, status as a political leader will not protect you from federal prosecution.  Hartsell made a conscious decision to deceive and benefit personally at the expense of the citizens of Cabarrus and Union counties.”

The investigation was investigated by the FBI and IRS-CI with assistance from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney JoAnna G. McFadden.

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Updated May 18, 2017