Carolina Journal News Reports
RALEIGH — Friends of former U.S. Rep. Frank Ballance are sponsoring a “friendship luncheon” for him, featuring comedian and civil-rights activist Dick Gregory, on Saturday in Murfreesboro. The event will take place at Nebo Baptist Church at 11 a.m. with Gregory scheduled to arrive at 1:30 p.m.
In October, Ballance, a Democrat and former First District congressman, was handed a four-year prison sentence for personal use of state money, which he had obtained in grants for his nonprofit organization, the John A. Hyman Memorial Youth Foundation, while he was a leader in the state Senate. He is scheduled to report to the federal prison in Butner before Dec. 30.
His son, former District Judge Garey Balance, was sentenced to nine months in federal prison for failing to file tax returns. He is to report to prison the following week.
An announcement for the luncheon event appeared Thursday in the Bertie Ledger-Advance newspaper. The ad listed a phone number to call for more information. Carolina Journal called the phone number and reached Thelma Adamson of Windsor. Adamson said the event was sponsored by a group of Ballance’s friends, but she would not provide any names.
She said that one of the friends paid for Gregory to attend, but again she would not provide the name. She said any further questions would have to be answered by the committee, but she refused to identify committee members and hung up the phone.
Gregory’s agent told CJ he would try to have Gregory call, but no call was received by Thursday evening. Nebo’s pastor, State Sen. Robert Holloman, did not return a phone message seeking further information.
Ballance resigned his congressional seat in June 2004, citing health problems.
In September 2004, a federal grand jury indicted both Ballances. Frank Ballance was charged with diverting more than $100,000 in state funds meant for the foundation. The funds went to his son, daughter, mother, church, and law firm while he was a state senator. He was also chairman of the foundation. In November 2004 Frank Ballance pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering.
Holloman was also named in the indictment, but he has not been charged with any crimes. Holloman’s wife, Velma Holloman, was a foundation board member. Holloman was elected in 2002, taking the state Fourth District Senate seat vacated by Ballance. Nebo was a significant beneficiary of the foundation and other funds secured by Ballance.
In total, the indictment documented $393,000 that Holloman’s church received through the efforts of Ballance. Neither Ballance nor Holloman has provided a detailed accounting of how the Nebo money was spent.
Don Carrington is executive editor of Carolina Journal.