The rise and fall of Sam Currin

The rise and fall of Sam Currin

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People make cynical jokes about "criminal lawyers," but it’s still a shock when a former federal prosecutor and state judge becomes an out-and-out crook.

Sam Currin did.

On Wednesday, the prominent lawyer with Wilmington ties agreed to plead guilty to federal charges of:

– Conspiring to launder $1.3 million for a convicted spam artist. Currin’s share of the loot was $240,000.

– Obstruction of justice for not reporting $6,000 in income to the IRS.

– Lying and failing to surrender documents to a federal grand jury.

This is a man who was a major figure in North Carolina for a long time. Starting his career as a federal prosecutor in Raleigh, he took a legislative job with Sen. Jesse Helms, who later saw to it that Ronald Reagan made him the U.S. Attorney for Eastern North Carolina.

In that powerful job, Currin oversaw the prosecution of a variety of unsavory types, including the Columbus County crooks of the 1980s’ "Colcor" scandal.

Helms next recommended Currin for a federal judgeship, but he withdrew when Raleigh lawyers opposed the nomination. Gov. Jim Martin then made him a Superior Court judge and Currin’s wife became U.S. attorney. (Nepotism? In politics?)

Back in private practice, Currin was elected state chairman of the Republican Party, serving until 1999. He made news with a number of cases – for example, representing a Wilmington chiropractor who was treating animals and representing, at no charge, the Sons of Confederate Veterans when they demanded a special license plate. (more…)

About the author

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina.