Statement from AG Cooper on bill to fight public corruption
Release date: 5/14/2013
“This is an important step in our fight against public corruption. Investigative grand juries are a critical tool that can help uncover the truth and assure that wrongdoing by public officials will be prosecuted.”
Cooper has long pushed to give state prosecutors the authority to convene an investigative grand jury to uncover public corruption. Under House Bill 908
, which passed the North Carolina House today, state prosecutors could convene an investigative grand jury for public corruption and financial crimes with the permission of a three-judge panel.
An investigative grand jury allows prosecutors to question witnesses under oath, subpoena records and deliberate evidence of wrongdoing. Prosecutors could use the tool to compel witnesses to testify under oath who otherwise might refuse to cooperate with an investigation.
Under Cooper’s direction, the NC State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) has been the lead investigative agency or a significant partner in more than 500 investigations of public officials over the past decade, including members of the previous Governor’s staff and a Governor for conduct committed while in office.
Examples of public corruption investigations handled by the SBI include the following cases:
- A Governor, for fraud and election law violations
- Governor’s staff members, for bribery, fraud, and election law violations
- A Council of State member, for fraud and election law violations
- A US Congressman, for fraud and false pretense
- A Speaker of the NC House, for bribery and obstruction of justice
- Multiple state legislators, for obstruction of justice and fraud
- Multiple local law enforcement, for embezzlement, obstruction of justice, fraud, bribery, and conspiracy
- A district attorney, for failure to perform duties, impersonation of an officer, and sexual offense
- An assistant district attorney, for obstruction of justice, falsifying records, and conspiracy
- A judge, for failing to discharge duties of office.
In recent years, SBI agents have investigated several state executive branch officials from agencies including the departments of Correction, Environment and Natural Resources, Public Safety, and Transportation. In addition to public corruption, SBI agents across the state routinely investigate excessive force complaints and various criminal allegations involving government officials and members of law enforcement, including state troopers and prison guards.
Media contact: Noelle Talley (919) 716-6413