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Ex-GOP official stole $1 million from taxpayers to go on lavish vacations — blames mental illness for thefts

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Former Wake County Register of Deeds Laura Riddick.

A Republican former state official in North Carolina pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $1 million Friday — and claimed a mental illness causing her to compulsively hoard money led to the theft.

Raleigh’s WRAL reported that former Wake County Register of Deeds Laura Riddick received six felony charges of embezzlement by a public officer.

Investigators found that Riddick stole more than $900,000 from public coffers between 2010 and 2017. The report noted that the former official went on lavish vacations in and outside of the state, including to resorts in Blowing Rock and Waynesville, NC and in Florida as well.

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“Documents related to the investigation show almost-daily deposits into Riddick’s bank accounts over a period of more than seven years,” WRAL noted. She was not discovered until her office switched to a new cash-handling system because the accounts were doctored.

Prior to her sentencing, Riddick’s lawyer Joe Zeszotarski told the jury that the Republican has a heart condition and was abused as a child, which he said led to her “compulsion to hoard money.”

“Holding an elected position of trust, I committed a serious crime for which I will always be deeply remorseful,” the ex-official told the judge, reportedly while her voice cracked with emotion.

(Full disclosure: This reporter worked for the Board of Elections in Wake County but never met or dealt with Riddick.)

Her plea deal included a payment of $926,615 to the government in restitution for the funds she stole and a prison sentence of five to seven years — some of which may be served on a work-release program that will allow her to “leave prison on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. to work in the community.”

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