Jim Black to transfer prisons

RALEIGH He is currently serving a federal prison sentence for a corruption conviction.

The Charlotte Observer said Saturday that more than 150 of Black's friends had written prison officials asking to get his sentence commuted or at least get him transferred closer to Charlotte because of the failing health of the 74-year-old Black and his wife.

Former Mecklenburg commissioner Parks Helms said Black was being transferred to a prison in Jessup, Ga., about 300 miles south of Charlotte.

Helms says Black's wife, Betty, has Lou Gehrig's disease. Attorney Jim Craven of Durham wrote to the U.S. pardon attorney citing Black's "wretched health" and eye problems.

Black pleaded guilty on Feb. 15, 2007 to a federal felony charge in which he acknowledged taking thousands of dollars from chiropractors while pushing their agenda at the Legislature.

A week later, he entered an Alford plea to state charges of bribery and obstruction of justice. The Alford plea allowed Black to acknowledge that the state's evidence could result in his conviction without having to admit any guilt.

State prosecutors accused Black of giving former state Rep. Michael Decker, R-Forsyth, as much as $58,000 in cash and campaign contributions to switch parties in 2003, a move that helped Black remain co-speaker. Black repeatedly denied that he bribed Decker.

On the obstruction charge, Black received up to 10 months in prison, a term to run concurrently with the federal sentence.

Stephens also threatened up to 23 additional months in prison on the bribery charge, to be served after the federal sentence is complete, if Black didn't pay the fine on time.

Black, a Democrat from Matthews, is scheduled to be released from prison in February 2012.

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