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FBI agent who focused on political corruption in NC to join state elections agency

By J. Andrew Curliss
acurliss@newsobserver.com
Edwards Trial
Gerry Broome - 2012 AP FILE PHOTO
FBI agent Charles W. “Chuck” Stuber Jr. leaves federal court in Greensboro, Monday, April 23, 2012.

An FBI agent who was involved in a string of high-profile political corruption cases in North Carolina over the past decade is retiring this month and will soon join the state Board of Elections to investigate possible campaign and elections violations.

Charles W. “Chuck” Stuber Jr. is probably most familiar to the public as the federal agent who worked on the case brought against former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, a Democrat who was charged with multiple federal campaign finance fraud violations but was not convicted by a jury.

Stuber is expected to join the state’s elections agency in June.

Stuber has helped secure convictions against a range of state political figures, among them former U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance, a Democrat; former state House Speaker Jim Black, a Democrat; former state lawmaker Michael Decker, a Republican who was bribed to switch parties and keep Black in power; and Ruffin Poole, who was a top aide to former Gov. Mike Easley.

Stuber also worked on the criminal case against Easley, a Democrat who is the first governor in state history to be convicted as a felon. Easley’s plea to breaking campaign finance laws was made in state court in 2010 as part of a deal that ended the federal arm of a long-running probe against him.

Kim Westbrook Strach, the elections board’s executive director, confirmed the impending hire in a brief interview. She said an announcement could be made as soon as Tuesday.

Strach worked closely with Stuber and other federal authorities on the Black, Decker, Easley and other cases that led to convictions for a range of other state officials or forced some campaigns to pay big fines.

Strach was the chief investigator before she was promoted to director of the elections agency in 2013.

Reached by phone, Stuber declined comment and referred questions to Strach.

Stuber, 54, had worked at the FBI since late 1985. He holds a law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and an undergraduate degree in accounting from N.C. State University, according to his online LinkedIn profile.

Elections inquiries

The state’s elections board has wide-ranging authority to investigate candidates, and Stuber would be expected to take up that work.

Last month, Strach told state lawmakers that cross-checking voter rolls in North Carolina against other states identified hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of voters who may have voted in the same election in 2012 in violation of laws.

She promised a deeper inquiry.

Strach has confirmed other pending inquiries, including questions about the campaign finances of state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, a Republican from Cabarrus County, and about a complaint filed by Democracy North Carolina related to possible illegal donations to state lawmakers from an Oklahoma illegal gambling business owner who was listed in some campaign paperwork as being associated with the law firm of Gov. Pat McCrory.

Curliss: 919-829-4840; Twitter: @acurliss
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