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Heading to prison, Hartsell gets probation after state plea

Fletcher Hartsell (WTVD photo)

RALEIGH - A former North Carolina legislator who investigators say spent more than $200,000 in campaign funds on vacations, speeding tickets, haircuts and other personal expenses received probation in state court on Friday, following a federal judge's decision to send him to prison.

Fletcher Hartsell, 70, was a Republican senator for 26 years before he decided against another run last year. He had become the longest-serving lawmaker in his chamber, with leadership positions under both GOP and Democratic majorities, as a joint campaign finance investigation ultimately found he broke state and federal laws. Hartsell pleaded guilty to three state counts of filing false campaign reports, and Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens gave him a suspended sentence and 18 months' unsupervised probation, essentially agreeing with Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman that his federal punishments are enough.

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