updated 11/2/2006 6:54:09 PM ET 2006-11-02T23:54:09

A former U.S. attorney, judge and state Republican chairman pleaded guilty Thursday to charges related to a tax fraud conspiracy.

Sam Currin could face 43 years in prison. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder more than $1 million through his law firm’s client trust account and to lying on his taxes by failing to report an offshore debit card account.

Currin, 57, also pleaded guilty in a related case to obstructing a grand jury investigation into securities fraud by conspiring to withhold documents and provide false testimony.

Prosecutors said Currin and his conspirators sent out fraudulent promotional materials on several publicly traded Nevada companies. When stock prices and trading volumes increased, those participating in the scheme profited on the sale of the securities. Prosecutors said Currin received more than $240,000.

Currin was an aide to U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms; U.S. attorney for eastern North Carolina from 1981-87; state GOP chairman from 1996-99; and a Superior Court judge until 1990.

Also charged in the case were tax attorney Ricky Graves; Howell Way Woltz, president of Sterling Trust in the Bahamas; and his wife, Vernice Woltz, a director of Sterling Trust.

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