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North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
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Fighting Public Corruption

Department of Justice lawyers and investigators bring corruption cases against public officials at all levels of local and state government in North Carolina.

Investigating Public Corruption
Our lawyers and special agents work with federal authorities and local District Attorneys to investigate and prosecute criminal cases against elected and appointed government officials.

The NC Attorney General's office and the State Bureau of Investigation have investigated more than 500 public corruption cases over the past decade, including cases against statewide elected officials, legislators, local government officials and law enforcement officers.

Field agents and agents with the SBI’s Professional Standards and Financial Crimes units are called in to investigate allegations such as embezzlement and bribery. In addition, the State Board of Elections refers campaign offenses to the SBI for investigation and related criminal charges. SBI agents also handle cases involving law enforcement officers who abuse their position.

Prosecuting Public Corruption
Several cases investigated by the SBI have also been prosecuted by the Attorney General's Office.  Under North Carolina law, original prosecutorial authority rests with local District Attorneys.  The law allows the AG to prosecute cases when requested by a District Attorney, which sometimes happens in cases that involve government officials. 

The Attorney General's special prosecutors have handled many cases involving public officials, including legislators, local government officials, Sheriffs, court officials and others.

More Tools to Fight Corruption
The Attorney General has pushed for more tools to fight public corruption, such as investigative grand juries for state prosecutors.  Federal authorities can convene an investigative grand jury to gather records and compel testimony, often helpful in public corruption cases, but state prosecutors cannot except in certain drug cases. 

The Attorney General has also asked lawmakers to make lying to an SBI agent during a criminal investigation a felony.  Federal law makes it a crime to lie to an FBI agent.  SBI agents working on corruption investigation have often seen witnesses lie or withhold information, then change their stories when a federal agent enters the room.