Local/State

Easley investigation continues Wednesday

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The federal grand jury investigating former governor Mike Easley is back in session Wednesday.

This time around, current and former state employees of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources are expected to testify.

Although the grand jury probe is secret, there is some insight into what they are doing because Public information laws require state agencies to release any subpoenas they are served with.

There is little doubt that federal grand jurors want to talk with Department of Environment and Natural Resources workers, because of a coastal development, Cannons Gate, where Easley bought property at a $137,000 discount from developer Gary Allen.

At state board of elections hearings earlier this month, federal investigators got some additional insight into their case.

They watched as Allen and other Easley associates testified during the probe of Easley's campaign financing and other election law violations. But they didn't hear much from Allen.

"I don't specifically recall that," he said.

The six current and former DEHNR employees called to appear this week before the federal grand jury will likely be asked if developers who were friends with Easley got special consideration for development permits.

Grand jurors have already heard from a parade of witnesses involved in the Easley administration.

It is believed to be a wide ranging probe that is looking not only at the land deals, but free cars provided to the Easley family by car dealers, free flights from campaign contributors, and a high-paying job for then first lady Mary Easley at NC State.

There has been no indication how long the grand jury investigation will last and whether it will result in federal charges against the former governor.

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mike easley, local/state, ed crump
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