Thursday, March 22, 2007

U.S. targeted Charlotte attorney - Gretchen C.F. Shappert prosecuted Sam Currin, a top North Carolina Republican, last year

Barbara Barrett, Washington Correspondent

U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert of Charlotte was among the attorneys whom federal Justice Department officials wanted removed as part of a sweeping housecleaning this winter, according to e-mail messages released this week to the House and Senate judiciary committees.

Shappert, a Republican who has been on the job since May 2004, was on a list under the category, "USAs [U.S. attorneys] We Now Should Consider Pushing Out," according to the e-mail messages.

In the end, she was allowed to stay on.

It is unclear why Shappert was under scrutiny. But among her prosecutions in the past year was that of Sam Currin, a top figure in North Carolina Republican circles.

Currin and two co-defendants were indicted in April. Currin was charged with seven felonies, including tax fraud conspiracy, perjury, obstruction of justice and witness tampering in a fraud case involving offshore investments. He pleaded guilty to three charges in November and is awaiting sentencing.

Currin is a former U.S. attorney who worked in the Raleigh office covering the Eastern District. He also is a former Superior Court judge and former chairman of the state Republican Party.

Shappert is the latest name to surface in the ongoing Washington scandal involving the firing of eight U.S. attorneys across the country. The Justice Department initially said the attorneys had poor performance reviews, but interviews and testimony before Congress show that some attorneys felt pushed to step up investigations into Democrats or go lightly on Republican targets....


Former U.S. attorney arrested - Tax conspiracy among charges

Andrea Weigl and Rob Christensen, Staff Writers

Former U.S. Attorney Sam Currin walked into the courthouse Tuesday where he prosecuted criminals in the 1980s, this time facing charges of his own.

Federal prosecutors said Currin, a familiar face in the state's political and legal circles, was involved in a scheme to help people set up offshore bank accounts, offshore credit cards and foreign trusts, all to help them evade federal income tax.

They also accused Currin, 57, of Raleigh, of lying to and withholding evidence from a federal grand jury in Charlotte that is investigating a complex securities fraud scheme.

Currin faces seven felony charges, including tax conspiracy, witness tampering and perjury.

The 36-page indictment unsealed Tuesday also charged Wilmington lawyer Ricky E. Graves and Howell Way Woltz and Vernice Chaitan Woltz, a husband-and-wife business team from Advance, in the same tax conspiracy. Raleigh lawyer Robert S. Wellons and Coyt Murray of Tega Cay, S.C., are not listed in the indictment but were charged in connection with the scheme, prosecutors said.

"Sometimes persons involved in elaborate criminal financial schemes believe they can avoid federal law enforcement by moving their operations offshore," U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert, who prosecutes crimes in Western North Carolina, said in a statement. "However, this is not true." ....

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