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James B. Black

James B. Black

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Dr. James "Jim" Boyce Black (born March 25, 1935) is a member of the North Carolina Democratic Party
North Carolina Democratic Party
The North Carolina Democratic Party is the North Carolina affiliate of the national Democratic Party in the United States. It is headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina. They are located in the historic Goodwin house which is located in the downtown area of Raleigh at 220 Hillsborough Street...

, and a former Democratic member of the North Carolina General Assembly
North Carolina General Assembly
The North Carolina General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. state of North Carolina. The General Assembly drafts and legislates the state laws of North Carolina, also known as the General Statutes...

 who represented the state's 100th House district, including constituents in Mecklenburg County
Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
-Air:The county's primary commercial aviation airport is Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte.- Intercity rail :With twenty-five freight trains a day, Mecklenburg is a freight railroad transportation center, largely due to its place on the NS main line between Washington and Atlanta...

. An optometrist from Matthews, North Carolina
Matthews, North Carolina
Matthews is a large suburban town of Charlotte located in southeastern Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. The population was 27,198 according to the 2010 Census.- Geography :Matthews is located at ....

, Black was elected to 11 (non-consecutive) terms in the House of Representatives
North Carolina House of Representatives
The North Carolina House of Representatives is one of the two houses of the North Carolina General Assembly. The House is a 120-member body led by a Speaker of the House, who holds powers similar to those of the President pro-tem in the state senate....

, and served as Speaker of the House
Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives
The Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives is the presiding officer of one of the houses of the North Carolina General Assembly. The Speaker is elected by the members of the house when they convene for their regular session in January of each odd-numbered year...

 from January 1999 through the end of 2006, when scandal forced him to give up the leadership post. For the 2003-2004 legislative session Black was elected to serve as “Co-Speaker” with Republican Richard T. Morgan
Richard T. Morgan
Richard Timothy Morgan was a Republican member of the North Carolina General Assembly representing the state's fifty-second House district, including constituents in Moore County, for eight terms. Morgan is an insurance broker and cattle farmer from Pinehurst, North Carolina.In 2003, the House...

 serving as the other Co-Speaker. He is tied with Liston B. Ramsey as longest-serving Speaker in state history.

Black earned an O.D. from the Southern College of Optometry
Southern College of Optometry
Southern College of Optometry is a college of optometry in the United States. It is located in Memphis, Tennessee and is dedicated to the study of optometry, the field of medicine that includes not only the performance of refractive eye examinations and the fitting of necessary corrective lenses or...

. He served in the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 and in the United States Naval Reserve.

Fall from power

In 2005 and 2006, Black was linked to a series of scandals involving, among other things, the party-switching Rep. Michael P. Decker
Michael P. Decker
Michael Paul Decker, Sr. is a former member of the North Carolina General Assembly representing the state's ninety-fourth House district, including constituents in Forsyth County...

, and the North Carolina lottery
Lotteries in the United States
Lotteries in the United States are run by 46 jurisdictions; 43 states, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.In the US, the lottery is subject to the laws of each jurisdiction; there is no national lottery.- History :...

, established the previous year. The proceedings led to convictions for several involved figures, including Decker, media and public relations consultant Kevin L. Geddings and political aide Meredith Norris. Decker testified under oath that he instigated a bribery scheme of which Black was alleged to be a "co-conspirator". Black has consistently denied those allegations.

Although Black was not indicted while serving as speaker, the situation drew ire from the North Carolina Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

, which involved the scandal in their November election campaigns.

Black was re-elected in November 2006, over Republican political novice Hal Jordan. Meanwhile, he led efforts to increase the Democratic majority in the State House.

In December 2006, Black announced that he would not seek another term as Speaker. That was followed in January 2007 by his announcement that he would not run for re-election to the House in 2008.

Black pleaded guilty to a federal
United States Code
The Code of Laws of the United States of America is a compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal laws of the United States...

 charge of public corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

 on February 15, 2007, a felony
A felony is a serious crime in the common law countries. The term originates from English common law where felonies were originally crimes which involved the confiscation of a convicted person's land and goods; other crimes were called misdemeanors...

 carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He admitted to accepting funds from chiropractors
Chiropractic is a health care profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the neuromusculoskeletal system and the effects of these disorders on general health. It is generally categorized as complementary and alternative medicine...

 while their professional group had legislation pending in the NC General Assembly. As a result, he resigned from the General Assembly on February 14, 2007.

Federal prosecutors have said the plea deal with Black involves his assistance in their continued investigation into political corruption in North Carolina government.

Black's agreement with federal prosecutors did not protect him from state prosecution. Indeed, days after his federal plea, he entered into a separate Alford plea
Alford plea
An Alford plea in United States law is a guilty plea in criminal court, where the defendant does not admit the act and asserts innocence...

 agreement with the district attorney
District attorney
In many jurisdictions in the United States, a District Attorney is an elected or appointed government official who represents the government in the prosecution of criminal offenses. The district attorney is the highest officeholder in the jurisdiction's legal department and supervises a staff of...

 of Wake County, the capital county.

On July 11, 2007, Black was sentenced by Judge Terrence Boyle
Terrence Boyle
Terrence William Boyle is a judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. He was Chief Judge of that court from 1997-2004. From 1991 to 1993 and again from 2001 to 2007, he was a nominee to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit...

to five years, three months in prison, three years of probation, and a $50,000 fine. Black was sentenced in state court as well in 2007 and 2009, but was allowed to serve his state sentences concurrently with his federal prison time.

In 2010, Black was released from federal prison in Georgia and returned to Mecklenburg County to serve the remaining six months of his term either at a halfway house or under house arrest.

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