Federal court suspends criminal investigation into Stein

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North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein told a news conference that a political opponent who accused him of lying in a campaign ad was actually the one who lied, and that his campaign ad, which is now the subject of a criminal investigation, was an attempt to correct the record.

“My opponent lied about me repeatedly,” Stein said while in Gaston County on Tuesday. “I mean, patently false, objective lies.”

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ended the criminal investigation on Tuesday.

In a 2-1 split decision, the appeals court granted Stein’s injunction request pending appeal, meaning state prosecutors can’t continue the process of filing charges against him. Stein.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein speaks during a press conference on local efforts to address the opioid epidemic held Tuesday morning at the Phoenix Counseling Center on Court Drive.

Stein’s statements on Tuesday came a day after a grand jury requested that the Wake County prosecutor’s office submit an indictment for review, an indication that they are considering possible criminal charges for an advertisement by 2020 campaign that targeted Stein’s Republican opponent Jim O’Neill, according to The Associated Press.

Jim O'Neil, a Republican, ran against Josh Stein in the 2020 election for North Carolina Attorney General.

Jim O’Neil, a Republican, ran against Josh Stein in the 2020 election for North Carolina Attorney General.

The ad in question accused O’Neill of allowing more than a thousand rape kits to go untested. O’Neill’s campaign says the ad violates a 1931 libel law that makes it an offense to deliberately disseminate a false and derogatory report that could harm a political candidate’s chances of winning an election.

Stein, the state’s top lawyer and a possible candidate for North Carolina governor in 2024, could face up to 60 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines if convicted. , although someone who doesn’t have a criminal record is unlikely to get a prison sentence, the Associated Press reported.

Seth Dearmin, Stein’s chief of staff, and Eric Stern, his 2020 campaign manager, were also named by the grand jury as candidates for potential charges, according to the News & Observer.

Stein said at the press conference that after he became state attorney general, a tally revealed that there were 15,000 untested rape kits that had been shelved by law enforcement. of the whole state.

“Which is heartbreaking. Because each of these kits came from a person, a person who suffered this terrible trauma and to whom, as a criminal justice system, we owe it our best to bring them justice,” said Stein said.

Stein said his office had developed a tracking system to deal with the backlog.

“As a result, we’re seeing cold cases given new life and 20-year-old, 30-year-old cases being resolved,” Stein said.

Stein said O’Neill claimed the kits were actually in the State Crime Lab and that Stein did nothing about the backlog until O’Neill ran him.

“So my campaign ran an ad to correct the record, which was true. He then complained about it because he didn’t want to be held accountable for his failing leadership,” Stein said.

Stein said the National Board of Elections investigated and concluded the ad was not false and the matter should be resolved.

“So they said. This case should be closed. Yet Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, at the request of his good friend O’Neill, resurrected this case and conducted a new investigation, and she continues to pursue it using 91-year-old status,” Stein said. “It has never been used against another candidate in the history of the state.”

Freeman is also a Democrat.

Journalist Kara Fohner can be reached at 704-869-1850 or [email protected] Support local journalism by by subscribing here.

This article originally appeared on The Gaston Gazette: North Carolina attorney general says Republican opponent Jim O’Neill lied

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