Originally created 09/10/04

Augustan is fined in carnival case



RALEIGH, N.C. - The last defendant facing state charges stemming from the campaign finance scandal involving former state Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps was sentenced Wednesday.

James H. Drew III, 58, of Augusta, had previously pleaded guilty to misdemeanor obstruction of justice for lying to investigators about giving $25,000 in illegal cash payments to Ms. Phipps.

Wake Superior Court Judge Donald W. Stephens ordered Mr. Drew to pay a $25,000 fine within the next 90 days and receive 18 months of unsupervised probation.

Ms. Phipps, a Democrat elected in 2000, is serving four years in a federal prison on charges of extortion, conspiracy and mail fraud. Ms. Phipps, the daughter and granddaughter of former governors, also was convicted of state charges of perjury and obstructing justice.

All of Ms. Phipps' convictions relate to her attempt to cover up her illegal cash contributions from vendors seeking work at the North Carolina State Fair, which she oversaw. Mr. Drew's family carnival business runs the midway at the Mountain State Fair near Asheville. He testified against Ms. Phipps during her trial last year.

Wake District Attorney Colon Willoughby agreed to let Mr. Drew plead guilty to a misdemeanor instead of a felony like the other defendants, as long as he testified truthfully against Ms. Phipps.

Defense lawyer Dan Boyce said Mr. Drew's parents started the carnival business in 1948. Mr. Drew's father had tried to create a state fair in Western North Carolina years ago but failed, Mr. Boyce said.

Mr. Boyce asked Judge Stephens not to impose a fine. But the judge wasn't persuaded.

If Mr. Drew fails to pay the fine on time, he could face 45 days in the Wake County jail.