Judge orders release of ex-NC lottery official

RALEIGH The order was issued by a judge in Raleigh just hours after federal prosecutors said Kevin Geddings should be released.

Just 40 days into his job as the North Carolina lottery commissioner, Geddings found himself in the middle of a scandal.

In 2006, he was convicted after failing to disclose his financial ties to a company that was expected to bid for business with the North Carolina lottery. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

His sentence was vacated Tuesday, thanks to a US Supreme Court decision issued last week stating that criminal convictions under the honest services law are only valid if bribes or kickbacks are involved.

Frank Perry, the former head of the Raleigh FBI office and with the Foundation for Ethics in Public Service, says he's not surprised by Geddings' release.

"They tended to gut the law in a way but they did not throw it out completely," he said. "The court had indicated for some months that it was moving in this direction to rule against honest services fraud."

Perry says about 90 percent of FBI convictions in public corruption cases involve honest services fraud charges.

"It's a significant blow for prosecutors in that sense," Perry said.

But Perry says federal investigators and prosecutors still have other tools available to them.

"The concept can be attached to a bribery, an extortion, kickback schemes," he said.

So they will keep cracking down on corruption. And, he says Congress will likely get involved.

"What you'll see in the months ahead is Congress will revamp the law and make it less vague," Perry said.

Geddings has been serving his sentence in Georgia and at last check he was still in prison. It's unclear when he will be set free.

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