After earning an MBA from East Carolina University in 1993, he founded two nonprofits, the East Carolina Development Company in 1997 and the Piedmont Development Company in 2004.
The nonprofits acted as a transit point for loans from a U.S. Department of Agriculture lending program aimed at alleviating poverty and spurring economic growth in low-income, rural areas nationwide. Known as the Intermediary Relending Program, it allowed groups like LaRoque’s to borrow the money at a one-percent interest rate and then relend it at a higher rate to struggling rural businesses, with the idea that the groups would use the profits to pay operational costs and relend principal that …show more content…
“LaRoque stole my business,” Bruce Patterson, the business owner, said in the flyer. “He stole my home.”
Patterson had borrowed $379,900 from the East Carolina Development Company in the late ‘90s, but fell behind on payments in 2006, leading ECDC to foreclose on both the restaurant and Patterson’s home upstairs. Patterson claimed LaRoque pushed the financing on him, then wouldn’t negotiate a modification when times got tough.
LaRoque insisted he hadn’t done anything improper, and then sued Braxton for defamation, continuing the case even after he’d won back his state seat. Braxton’s legal team began requesting documentation from LaRoque. The lawyers had uncovered an audit by the USDA’s Office of the Inspector General questioning LaRoque’s business practices and suggesting, as Braxton’s attorney put it to the Kinston Free Press, “that LaRoque may owe $4.5 million back to the government for making loans in violation of the program under which he was …show more content…
He was indicted by a federal grand jury "on charges that he misappropriated money from a federal program..." LaRoque resigned from the legislature in July 2012. He was convicted on 12 counts including theft, money laundering and filing false tax returns.
He had been a man on the rise, included among former Speaker of the House Thom Tillis’ inner circle as co-chairman of the House Rules Committee. However, as talk of the allegations against him gained volume, his political stock plummeted. He lost his renomination battle in 2012 to now-state Rep. John Bell,