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Past conviction could derail newly elected UNC board member

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RALEIGH (AP) -- A criminal conviction could derail the election of a former school superintendent to a seat on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

Seventy-two-year-old Purnell Swett is a former superintendent of Robeson County schools. Court records show he paid himself an extra $13,000 in 1997. He was charged with embezzlement and conspiracy and resigned.

Swett accepted punishment for a misdemeanor, receiving a suspended sentence. He was ordered to repay the money as part of a plea deal in which he didn't acknowledge guilt.

Swett says he's unsure if he'll take his seat on the board. Board members are selected by the House and Senate.

Since Swett's record became known, House Speaker Joe Hackney's office has changed the background information form nominees fill out. It had only asked about felony convictions.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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