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Former DA Gore strikes plea deal, avoids jail

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- Former District Attorney Rex Gore has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor willful neglect to discharge a duty of his office. In exchange, prosecutors have agreed to drop a felony charge of conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense was dropped.

Gore received a suspended 60-day sentence and was placed on unsupervised probation for 18 months. He also must surrender his law license for six months.

The charges stemmed from allegations Gore signed off on false expense reports for one of his former Assistant DAs Elaine Kelley. Kelley pleaded guilty earlier this year to misprision of a felony and agreed to pay back more than $14,000 in travel expenses she had received.

Gore had said he had agreed to pay Kelley for travel when he hired her to handle cases in Bladen County. He said he had no intent to overstep his authority.

"Everybody acknowledges that from the beginning this was a mistaken belief that he had certain budgetary authority, which it turns out that he did not," Gore's attorney James Payne said. "Neglect is correctly applicable here; not dishonor at all by Mr. Gore, because he is a very honorable man."

Gore was District Attorney for Brunswick, Bladen and Columbus counties for 20 years before losing in the 2010 Democratic Primary to Butch Pope. Republican Jon David won the general election that year.

Gore's case was handled by the Attorney General's Office.

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