Easley witnesses spotted at courthouse

July 17, 2009 8:22:17 AM PDT
Eyewitness News saw four people arrive at the federal courthouse in Raleigh around 8:30 a.m. Thursday. The witnesses confirmed they were from the state auditor's office for the Easley investigation but did not give any details. Federal investigators have requested documents from the auditor's office relating to an audit of Mary Easley's pay while she was employed at NC State.

Former auditor Les Merritt, a Republican, conducted the audit. His successor, Democrat Beth Wood has not made the office's findings public.

And shortly after 10 a.m., former NC State provost Larry Nielsen arrived at the federal courthouse sporting a Wolfpack red tie. There has been speculation for weeks that he would testify about Mary Easley's employment and pay raise.

Neilsen and his attorney had nothing to say to reporters.

"We have no comment at this time," Attorney Tommy Manning said outside the courthouse.

Click here for more information about NC State's role in the federal investigation

A federal grand jury is expected to hear more testimony as the investigation into former Governor Mike Easley continues.

Prosecutors are building a potential corruption case against Easley. The grand jury in the investigation was replaced with new jury members Wednesday, according to courthouse employees.

It's standard protocol for grand juries to be replaced every 18 months.

At NC State, a new 5 member committee is reviewing university policy. The action comes as the feds also review former first lady Mary Easley's job at the school.

"It's not about any part [or] person not trying to find fault with anybody or blame anybody for anything," said Lawrence Davenport, board chair. "We're trying to figure out if our policies and procedures were the problem."

Documents show Mike Easley played a role in creating Mary Easley's job, which came with an 88 percent pay raise last year.

"Is it a policy and procedure problem or a personnel problem?" asked Bob Jordan, board member.

Eyewitness News is at the courthouse and will bring you more details about today's testimony as soon as it is available.

For background information on this case, click here.


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