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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 27, 2016

State Senator Indicted For Misuse Of Campaign Funds

Charges Include Mail Fraud, Wire Fraud, and Money Laundering

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A grand jury returned a federal indictment today, charging North Carolina State Senator Fletcher Lee Hartsell, Jr. with multiple counts related to fraudulent campaign fundraising and reporting and associated money laundering, announced the United States Attorney’s Office, John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division and Thomas J. Holloman, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI), Charlotte Division.

Hartsell, 69, of Concord, N.C., is charged with five counts of mail fraud, three counts of wire fraud, and six counts of money laundering. According to allegations in the Indictment, from 2007 through 2015, Hartsell engaged in a scheme to defraud and to obtain money through materially false pretenses by soliciting funds for the Hartsell State Senator Committee through mailings and interstate wires, using those funds for personal goods and services not authorized under relevant state campaign finance laws, and then concealing such conduct through false campaign filings mailed via the United States Postal Service to the North Carolina Board of Elections. The Indictment further alleges that Hartsell laundered Hartsell State Senator Committee funds through his law firm, Hartsell & Williams, P.A., as well as a corporation he owned with his wife, Equity Properties of Concord, LLC, to disguise the fact that campaign funds were being used for personal enrichment rather than for lawful purposes. The Indictment further alleges that, as a result of this scheme to defraud, Hartsell spent approximately $210,000 of monies properly belonging to the Hartsell State Senator Committee on personal goods and services for his own enrichment.

"Our campaign finance laws must be enforced in order to protect the integrity of the American democratic process. If you abuse the power granted to you as an elected official, the FBI will work tirelessly to ensure you are held accountable for your actions," said John Strong, FBI’s Special Agent in Charge. "Confidence in the integrity of our elected officials is essential and is at the heart of our democracy. To be elected to serve in public office is an unmistakable privilege, not an opportunity to fraudulently enrich oneself using a position of trust. IRS

Criminal Investigation Special Agents play a crucial role in unraveling complex schemes in service to the American taxpayer," said Thomas J. Holloman, III, IRS-CI’s Special Agent in Charge.

Hartsell will have his initial appearance on September 29, 2016 in U.S. District Court in Greensboro. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of twenty years and a $500,000 fine, or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and Hartsell is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

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

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Updated September 27, 2016