Matthews, NC -- Former North Carolina House Speaker Jim Black insists he didn't do anything illegal after serving time in prison, according to an exclusive interview with WRAL.
Black, 76, represented Mecklenbury County in the House for 20 years. He was speaker for eight years.
He resigned in February 2007 and pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge and entering an Alford plea to state charges of bribery and obstruction of justice.
In an Alford plea, a defendant pleads guilty, while maintaining his innocence, and admits it is in his best interest to take the plea deal because there is sufficient evidence to find him guilty.
Black was originally accused in 2001 by federal investigators of protecting video poker lobbyist because they contributed a lot of money.
A few years later, the state held hearings to look into how Black raised money for legislative candidates. The federal investigators were back on that case. He was accused of soliciting $25,000 in illegal campaign contributions.
Black was released from prison about six months ago. He served more than three years in federal prisons and paid a $1 million fine. He was released to finish his sentence on house arrest while his wife battled her last few months of Lou Gehrig's disease.
"I did not ever, ever do anything for money in my pocket," Black said Monday in an exclusive interview with WRAL News at his home in Matthews.
He told WRAL he pleaded guilty only to get from underneath the investigation.
His head is held now that he served his time. Black said the experience brought him closer to god.
"I knew the Lord well before I went to prison, but I can understand now why you find the Lord in prison because you get to your knees right away," he explained.
Black said he regained his licence to practice optometry and plans to write a book about North Carolina politics.