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Raleigh, N.C. -- Wake County's top prosecutor is leaving office after 28 years and several months before his term was to expire.

District Attorney Colon Willoughby already had announced in January he wouldn't seek re-election in November. Willoughby told Gov. Pat McCrory's office Thursday he was stepping down March 31. He's joining the Raleigh office of the McGuireWoods law firm on May 1.

Willoughby first became district attorney in 1986. The Wake County DA may be the most high-profile local prosecutor in the state because the job handles government corruption cases. The Democrat was involved in the prosecution of former House Speaker Jim Black and state Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps.

McCrory can appoint someone to fill out Willoughby's term. Four Republicans and two Democrats are running for the next four-year term.

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