Raleigh lawyer pleads guilty to lobbying-related charges after WBTV investigation
RALEIGH, N.C. (WBTV) - Raleigh lawyer and lobbyist Mark Bibbs pleaded guilty to six misdemeanor charges in a Wake County courtroom Monday.
Bibbs was indicted on ten felony and misdemeanor charges in February 2018 following an investigation by the North Carolina Secretary of State’s Office that was prompted by a WBTV investigation. The charges included felony obstruction of justice, felony perjury and misdemeanor counts of lobbying without registration, among others.
Monday’s guilty plea included a count of criminal contempt, misdemeanor obstruction of justice and four counts of lobbying without registration.
Bibbs was sentenced to two years probation and is permanently banned from lobbying or practicing law, according to Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman. Bibbs also must undergo a 90-day outpatient substance abuse treatment and will be subject to continuous alcohol monitoring, Freeman said.
In court, Bibbs’ attorney told a judge that Bibbs had a substance abuse problem during the period in which the underlying offense conduct occurred.
“We’re satisfied with this outcome inasmuch as we know that he is prohibited going forward from practicing law or being a lobbyist and we think that’s appropriate given the allegations in this meant,” Freeman told WBTV Monday afternoon.
The criminal investigation began after WBTV uncovered evidence that Bibbs was lobbying at the North Carolina General Assembly on behalf of a bail bond surety company without being registered as required by law.
Records previously obtained by WBTV have shown Bibbs was in frequent communication with House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and also in touch with then-Commissioner of Insurance Wayne Goodwin, whose agency regulated bail bond surety companies, at the time of his unregistered lobbying.
That company, Cannon Surety, has since been taken over by the North Carolina Department of Insurance. Two former company employees were indicted along with Bibbs and their charges are still pending.
In a statement issued after Bibbs entered his guilty plea, Secretary Elaine Marshall said she hoped the investigation served as a reminder to others that her agency will actively police lobbying registration requirements.
"This guilty plea upholds the public’s right to know who is being paid to influence governmental action as well as the legislator’s right to know who is being paid to influence them,” Marshall’s statement said.
Previous coverage: Raleigh lawyer faces 10-count indictment stemming from WBTV investigation
Bibbs pushed back on Marshall’s comments in a statement of her own, in which he called her a “Donald Trump Democrat.”
“I have just read Elaine Marshall’s windbag press release. Elaine now has the termerity and unmitigated gall to gloat over this case. As I said in open court today, thousands of lobbyists commit this registration violation each year and not one has EVER been charged, EVER,” Bibbs said. “Elaine has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars and 2 years of state employees time going after me and trying to ruin my reputation, me, a successful black lawyer who she has singled out for no good or fair reason.”
Bibbs said he agreed to plead guilty as a way to help his family and because he had already decided to retire from practicing law.
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